Cecily Strong Exits ‘Saturday Night Live’ as Austin Butler Sings “Blue Christmas” (VIDEO)

Saturday Night Live - Austin Butler and Cecily Strong

The exodus from Saturday Night Live continues: The NBC sketch-comedy show’s episode on Saturday, December 17, marked the final installment for Cecily Strong.

The SNL social media accounts announced the show’s latest cast shakeup earlier on Saturday, with Twitter and Instagram messages reading, “Tonight we send off one of the best to ever do it. We’ll miss you, Cecily!”

In Saturday’s “Weekend Update” segment, Strong gave one more performance of Cathy Anne, Michael Che’s drug-addicted neighbor, who said she was finally going to jail. But Cathy Anne said she had “friends on the inside, and they seem to be doing OK,” as a picture of SNL alums Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon in prison uniforms flashed on-screen.

Cathy Anne’s upcoming prison sentence gave Strong a chance to say goodbye to SNL. “I’ve 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,” Strong said, staying in character but getting teary. “But I don’t know, take that with a grain of salt, being that I have addiction issues.”

At the end of Saturday’s show, in a sketch about a Christmas party at a Radio Shack, Kenan Thompson got to say his goodbyes to Strong — in character as Radio Shack manager Frank Lasagna. “As some of you know, this is Cecily’s last day working at Radio Shack after eight incredible years.”

“Well, I’ve been here 11,” Cecily said.

“I know,” Frank responded. “And eight of them were incredible.”

But then Frank — or, more likely, Thompson — turned sincere. “Honestly, I don’t think Radio Shack could have survived this long with Cecily,” he said. “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’d have a power and 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.”

Then Frank introduced the Radio Shack Christmas party’s entertainment, “Casual Elvis,” played by Elvis actor Austin Butler, the host of Saturday’s SNL episode. Butler sang a rendition of the Elvis Presley song “Blue Christmas,” with the rest of the cast joining in for the chorus as fake snow fell on the set of Studio 8H and Strong bid her colleagues farewell.

Strong joined Saturday Night Live in 2012 and became a scene-stealing cast member with characters like The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party, “Girlfriends Talk Show” host Kyra, and, of course, Cathy Anne. She also co-hosted Weekend Update between 2013 and 2014. For her work on the show, Strong earned Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series in 2020 and 2021.

In recent years, Strong has followed other creative pursuits. She stars in the Apple TV+ musical comedy Schmigadoon!, executive-produced by SNL creator Lorne Michaels. And she missed the first few episodes of SNL Season 48 so that she could star in the one-woman show The Search for Signs of Intelligence Life in the Universe in Los Angeles, another production boasting Michaels as producer.

Saturday Night Live, Saturdays, 11:30/10:30c, NBC