The 46-year-old funnyman is finally confirming that his 11-year run on NBC's late-night sketch comedy show ended upon its season finale in May.
"I didn't do any kind of announcement, but I really felt like it was obvious," Armisen tells Splitsider.com. "Bill [Hader] was leaving, Kristen [Wiig] and Andy [Samberg] had just left. It just felt like I was very happy, maybe this is like a good time to do it."
Viewers of the show certainly felt like it was goodbye while watching Armisen's final sketch, which featured him as Rubbish, the British rocker character that he introduced earlier in the season. With support from other castmates including Hader and Jason Sudeikis (who departed the show as well), they sang "It's a Lovely Day," playing up the lyrics, "It's been all right / I've had a lovely night with you."
"[It was] an ending that was a love letter to all the music I grew up with, and also to my friends and to 'SNL' and to Lorne [Michaels, the executive producer], and to the cast," Armisen tells the site. "There was a lot of emotion attached to it, but it was a very positive emotion."
Armisen says he felt that he went out on a high note.
"I came away … feeling very well represented," he says. "I felt, and I still feel, they let me do sooo much stuff that I wanted to do. … I felt very fulfilled. And … something about the new cast as they were coming in made me feel really good. Like, this is awesome. This is so great. Look at how well they're taking care of the house, you know?"
He hints that it's not the last that the "SNL" viewing audience will see of him, as many other alums -- including Wiig, Samberg, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Maya Rudolph – have popped back in.
"People who have left before me have always stayed with the show. They never really quite left, which is nice," he says. "Everyone kind of stays close. … On one level, we stay in each other's lives, but also the show. I feel like people don't really just leave in a cold way. I think people stay around in their own way."
And he's not disappearing from the tube entirely – he continues to star in IFC's "Portlandia." Now he feels he can give that show more of his attention.
"'Portlandia' started to pull me away more and more schedule-wise," he admits. "And I just felt like it'd be nice to focus on it a little more [as we] go into the fall."
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- Fred Armisen