Kel Loves Orange Soda, Kenan Loves to Defend SNL‘s Lack of Diversity
1:32 pm, October 16th | by Colette McIntyre
It is no secret that SNL has a diversity problem. We know it; Salon knows it; The Washington Post knows it; Hell, Drunk Uncle probably knows too, though I think it’s safe to assume that he takes no issue with it. Despite adding a whopping six new cast members to its ranks this season, the sketch show still features only two Black performers and exactly zero women of color. For years the white male perspective has been the fulcrum of SNL‘s humor.
Kenan Thompson, one of two Black performers in SNL‘s sixteen-member cast, knows who’s to blame for the show’s narrow sensibility: Black female performers. BUT OF COURSE! HOW DIDN’T WE THINK OF TH — wait, what?!
In a recent interview with TV Guide, Thompson revealed that he will no longer cross-dress for sketches. Oh, okay, that makes sense — why should he or fellow cast member Jay Pharaoh play Black women like Mo’Nique, Maya Angelou, or Whoopi Goldberg when there are plenty of talented Black female comedians who can nail the impressions? Having the only two Black performers portray every Black celebrity, regardless of gender, is lazy at best. At worst, it’s tokenism. Thompson must be frustrated with the casting process.
Instead of blaming showrunner Lorne Michaels or the series, which currently only employs three actors of color out of 16 cast members (Thompson, Pharaoh and the Iranian Nasim Pedrad), Thompson blames the lack of quality black female comedians. “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson says. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
SPIT TAKE. SCOOBY DOO NOISE OF CONFUSION.
There is a lack of quality Black female comedians?! Lorne Michaels can’t find any that are “ready”?!
Let’s take a look at how the only other Black cast member, Jay Pharaoh, answered a similar question:
They need to pay attention. Her name is Darmirra Brunson…Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented. She’s amazing.
Why is it that Pharaoh can name a Black female comedian who is “really talented” and presumably “ready” for a spot on SNL within a matter of minutes, just off the top of his head, whereas Michaels spends months searching for new talent in clubs across the country and comes back with six white comedians? Remind me who the problem is again, Kenan Thompson.