Just before two tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Livethe show’s Instagram account announced that it would be the final episode to feature celebrated cast member Cecily Strong, one of the show’s last remaining veterans.
Over the course of her 11-year run, Strong would prove to be one of the sketch-comedy show’s most reliably funny performers, introducing new characters like The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party and Cathy Anne, the drug-huffing neighbor of Michael Che armed with wild opinions, as well as impersonations of everyone from Lana Del Rey to Jeanine Pirro.
After a cold open featuring Strong’s Kimberly Guilfoyle trying to sell her Christmas album—much to an NFT-hawking Trump’s chagrin—Strong appeared on “Weekend Update” as her Cathy Anne character, telling the audience through tears, “It’s just my time now. But I had a lot of fun here, and I feel really lucky that I got to have so many of the best moments of my life in this place, with these people that I love so much.”
But that wasn’t all. The final sketch of the night featured the cast giving Strong a second goodbye, this one even more tear-filled than the last.
Set in a Radio Shack, it featured Kenan Thompson as the big boss, Frank Lasagna, saying goodbye to Cecily.
“This is Cecily’s last day working at Radio Shack after eight incredible years,” said Thompson.
“Well, I’ve been here eleven,” Strong replied.
“I know. And eight of them were incredible. Honestly, I don’t think that Radio Shack could have survived this long without Cecily,” offered Thompson, his voice cracking with emotion. “Every time she came to work she had a new character, or a new accent, or a new impression that would just blow you away. She had a power and a joy to her performance that made you remember why you loved working at Radio Shack in the first place. I know I’m not supposed to say this as your boss, but: I love you, Cecily.”
“I love you too, Mr. Frank Lasagna,” she said back.
Then, SNL brought out host Austin Butler as “casual Elvis” to serenade Strong with a rendition of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.”
“We’ll have a blue Christmas without you / We’ll be so blue just thinking about you,” he sang in his deep Elvis voice.
Strong herself chimed in: “And when those blue snowflakes start falling / That’s when those blue memories start callin’…”
Then, Thompson and the rest of the cast joined in on the fun, as snowflakes fell. It was one of the more moving goodbyes the show has ever produced.