Like a kettle of hot water for tea, this story has been brewing in the background. I was aware but didn’t want to speak until it was ready for me.
This past Monday television producer Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live hired comedian Sasheer Zamata as the show’s first African American female cast member since Maya Rudolph left six years ago.
First and foremost I must congratulate this sistah on becoming a cast member on one of the longest running live comedy sketch shows on American television. This is an accomplishment that she should be proud of and I may start watching that shit again to see what she does with this opportunity.
But in reality all of this hype and publicity has me cocking my head to the side and asking nobody in particular “And this is news because???”
It’s similar to when celebrities come out of the closet on the cover of People magazine with the words “I’M GAY!!” in huge bold letters.
Shouldn’t the bigger story be that SNL hasn’t hired a black female comedian in six years rather than honoring them with how “groundbreaking” they are by hiring Miss Zamata now? Or better yet how comedian Kenan Thompson, who’s a brotha, has portrayed damn near all of the black female characters such as Whoopi Goldberg, Raven Symone’ (The fuck???), Star Jones and Chaka Khan in the time since Maya’s departure.
Listen, I like a good drag show just as much as anyone else but what’s up with putting brothas in dresses all the time? You have examples like Thompson, Tracy Morgan (who is an ugly woman) and Tim Meadows that all donned the dress and pumps at one time or another. And to its credit many of SNL’s male performers have done drag while on the show. But when you have a six year hiatus where you couldn’t get anyone to replace Maya and constantly had your black male performers dressing up like women I personally have to raise up my hand and call Shenanigans!
I’m reminded of a time not long ago when Halle Berry became the first African American leading actress to win an Academy Award and everyone was all hype and happy. But not me. I wondered why in the hell it took 75 years for that to happen. Much like how I’m wondering why it took SNL so damn long to hire a black female comedian.
And yes I know, Kenan said it had to do with the lack of talent and the comedians not being able to handle the pressure. Look, I haven’t directed live television as of yet but I have seen SNL and if that’s the example of professionals who can handle the pressure I must admit they make the shit look really boring.
Because SNL isn’t very funny.
And I stopped watching it way before Tina, Amy and Maya were killing their sketches because I was watching MadTV.
I’m hoping that Miss Zamata can breathe new life into SNL with her brand of humor, because she is a very funny comedian. I’m also hoping that this chance at SNL will open doors for her in the same ways that it did for Maya, Eddie, Chris and many other black SNL alumni. And if for any other reason, I hope she sticks around long enough so they never have to squeeze Kenan into a dress again.