(NBC News) "Saturday Night Live" embarks on the start of its 39th season this weekend.
One of the show's alums, Tina Fey, is back to host and she'll be shepherding a ensemble that's undergoing one of its biggest overhauls ever.
For every "Saturday Night Live" cast member there's always been a first show.
"It's like 10 thousand middle school plays. I remember being so unbelievably nervous for that," said new cast member Kate McKinnon.
This week, "SNL" has six new performers all preparing for their debut in Studio 8H.
"Now that we've been here for a while, it's fun to watch them being terrified because we don't feel like we're the crazy people. It kind of is fun, oh!!," said Bobby Moynihan who joins the show this year.
The newcomers are the product of a massive talent search by "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels.
It was all brought about by the departures of Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudekis.
"He's had to replace everybody from Tina Fey to Will Ferrell. He's had to replace stars. And he has an extraordinary eye for talent," said New York Times Media Writer Bill Carter.
Among the SNL rookies is Beck Bennett, who stars in AT&T ads.
"It shows in those commercials how funny he is, so i think now people will get to know him on the show, and eventually, he won't be the AT&t guy any more, he'll be the SNL guy," said Moynihan.
Carter says those ads probably weren't even a factor in Michaels hiring Bennett.
"He says, that doesn't tell me at all whether they can stand on the stage at 8h in front of a live national audience and perform. That's a totally separate skill."
Finding unknowns who have it has been a key to SNL's long running success.
Sometime after the first of the year, "SNL" will be losing another cast member and its head writer.
Seth Meyers will take over as host of "Late Night" when Jimmy Fallon takes over "The Tonight Show this fall.
Cast member Cecily Strong will join Meyers on the "weekend update" anchor desk and take over as anchor when Meyers' departs.
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