All Articles Tagged "SNL"
I know we all felt some type of way when Kenan Thompson said that the lack of black female comediennes on SNL had a lot to do with most of them not “being ready” last month. Yet we quickly moved on from the issue after Kerry Washington killed it as a host of the show on November 2. Guess everyone thought enough progress had been made in the blink of an eye. But Salon recently sat down with funny lady Nefetari Spencer, a black comedienne known for being in the comedy troupe Elite Delta Force 3, and starring in the hilarious skit, “Real Housewives of Civil Rights” with Wayne Brady, to talk about what it’s really like to audition for Saturday Night Live. Spencer went into detail about making it to the final rounds of auditions in 2008 with her Michelle Obama impressions, coming face-to-face with SNL-head Lorne Michaels, and what she thinks about the lack of sistas on the show. Really interesting stuff:
What was it like when you got there?
“I was in the same space that raised Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Ellen Cleghorne and Maya Rudolph. And I was there, me, Nefetari Spencer, the same little girl from the south side of Chicago who performed “skits” with my cousin in the living room. The Holy Grail of sketch comedy called and I was ready.
I came “camera-ready,” meaning my hair and make up were already done. As a black woman in this industry, I learned my lesson the hard way about going through “the works” and coming out looking worse than when I sat down. We have all gone through that but that’s another story.
While I sat in the chair for a touch-up, in walked Seth Meyers. Come to find out he went to Northwestern, and I used to visit one of my BFFs there, so we were able to talk about that and Chicago. [I hoped] Seth would be able to see me as more than a head shot.”
How many other people were testing at the time?
“There were 20 of us testing that year. I was the only African-American woman and Jordan Peele [of Key & Peele fame] was the only African-American male there.
[After two hours, my name was] called. The assistant director introduced himself to me and asked me to check the set and if I needed anything. As I checked the table, set up my wigs, and props, I noticed that Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers and Marci Klein were sitting at a table à la “American Idol” adjacent to the camera and behind them in the bleachers were possibly the writers. It was about 10-15 people, mostly white men.
I started my audition.
“Hi, I’m Nefetari Spencer and this is Michelle Obama.”
Six-point-five minutes and seven characters later I said, “Thank you.” Two people in the hall told me, “That was so funny, you were great.”
How did you find out that you didn’t get the gig?
“I found out I didn’t get it the day they announced the new cast members. It was hard to digest because it seemed kismet. I thought of the contract that I signed that could have changed my life and about me moving to NYC. With Maya Rudolph no longer being on the show, they were going to need a Michelle Obama. I mean all of the signs were there. I had been working tirelessly for years to get to that level. I couldn’t help but feel sad, but I also felt I left my heart on that stage and that’s all I could do.”
How did you react to Kenan Thompson’s statement about black women and “SNL”?
“I can’t speak for all African-American women who do sketch but I can say I think there are some out there who are ready. Hell, I thought I was ready but maybe not.”
Do you still want to work for “SNL” or are you more focused on your own pursuits?
“I will stress that to me, “SNL” is the Mecca. If the Mecca calls again, I will go and do my best. Meanwhile, I will continue to focus on my own pursuits.”
SNL definitely missed out because Spencer is pretty funny! Check out her full interview from earlier this month over at Salon’s website and check out some of Spencer’s best impressions below and share your thoughts.
These shows started off with a bang — and great ratings — but over time they fizzled out and for some reason, unbeknownst to us, remained on the air.
Former basketball wife Shaunie O’Neal had a hit on her hands when she introduced the world to Jennifer Williams, Evelyn Lozado, Royce Reed and Gloria Govan, better known collectively as the “Basketball Wives.” While some of the men in the NBA were upset the women in their lives were given a show, fans tuned in each week to see how the rich, yet slightly ratchet, lived. The show was so successful, it spawned a spinoff version in Los Angeles. But as the cast members changed each season, the show’s fights became more insane. By the time Evelyn jumped over a table barefoot to go after her former friend and fellow cast mate Jennifer, there was a public outcry against the show and a petition was started to end the violence. While the fights have now died down, so did everyone’s interest in the show.
Just because Kerry Washington appeared on “Saturday Night Live” this weekend doesn’t mean anyone has forgotten that the sketch comedy show has a black woman issue. It’s no secret SNL isn’t the most diverse show around in terms of casting, but the consistent lack of black women on the series recently became a major hot topic when cast member Keenan Thompson boldly proclaimed that SNL producers try to find black comedians to be a part of the show, but the ones they find are never ready.
Yeah. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over too well, and until this past week no one from SNL had bothered to address — or clean up — that generalization, including Thompson. Thankfully, Lorne Michaels, the founding producer of SNL finally spoke up on the issue in an interview with the Associated Press this past Thursday, though I’m not sure his statements will appease many. When asked about the fact that in SNL’s 38-year history there have only been four black female cast members, Michaels said:
“It’s not like it’s not a priority for us. It will happen. I’m sure it will happen.”
As for a timeline on when that will happen, your guess is as good as mine. I’m not one who’s personally offended by SNL’s lack of color, most likely because I’m not a fan of the show anyway so if a black woman was cast I probably wouldn’t be any more likely to watch. Also, I don’t get that SNL is purposely bypassing black women when it comes to diversifying the cast — although Thompson’s comments may have suggested that — but perhaps they do need to ramp up their search efforts if it’s been six years since the last black woman graced the set (Maya Rudolph) and they haven’t found a replacement yet.
What do you think?
On the cusp of all the criticism Kenan Thompson and SNL has received recently for not featuring enough black women, we were excited to hear the news that Kerry Washington would be hosting SNL . In case you were out living it up this past Saturday, here are the clips from her monologue and skits, including one that specifically addressed the need for black women on the show. I have to admit they handled it pretty well. I laughed and approved. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one, Kerry’s show ended up being the highest rated SNL show of the season, the highest since March, when Justin Timberlake hosted.
Then there was another in which she played assistant to a corny motivational speaker. She plays a contestant in the Miss Universe competition, a music video called “What Does My Girl Say” and “How’s He Doing.” I know some of you had your reservations about Kerry’s ability to bring the funny. But she didn’t do too bad…not too bad at all.
And on another note, be sure to look out for that baby bump. We see you Kerry…in more ways than one.
The internets kind of erupted this past week when Kenan Thompson, of SNL (and before that “Kenan and Kel” on Nickelodeon–never forget.), told TV Guide that the reason SNL doesn’t feature any black, female cast members is because black women, when they come to the auditions, aren’t ready for the job.
People were up-set. And came for Kenan’s throat. Maybe I’m desensitized but personally, I didn’t find his statement all that offensive. When I think of places where black comediennes can succeed and thrive, SNL is not nearly at the top of my list. Not because of their history has so clearly lacked black women, but because I never really associate the SNL brand of humor with black women, and rarely with black people. But that’s just me; and while I’ve been known to make people chuckle sometimes, I’m not a comedienne.
But Azie Mira Dungey of the YouTube series, “Ask A Slave” and Amani Starnes of “United Colors of Amani” are comediennes and fortunately, the two sat down to share their thoughts on the lack of black women in comedy. I think you may find their insight a bit more helpful than some of the [faux] and authentic “outrage” people have hurled at Kenan over the past few days.
In the two part conversation, these women explained that there are layers to this thing about black women not being ready to take on roles at SNL, including the expectations for black comediennes, lack of diverse writers and even socioeconomic status.
“Comedy has been male dominated forever. When it comes to black women, one of the fears that may actually keep black women away from comedy, you have to play stereotypes. That’s what’s funny about sketches. As a black woman, the stereotypes that we have, there’s like two. Ghetto, angry ghetto, sassy ghetto, loud ghetto. Lots of stuff about hair. I was in a class and my teacher, when he gave themes or prompts for a scene, he gave me basketball and weaves to me every time. That’s what he thinks is going to be funny about me.”‘
“My parents have ascended to a point where their children are entitled enough and have the right to go pursue their artistic dreams just like kids from other races or backgrounds. If my dad had told his father that he wanted to be an actor, he would have just laughed in his face and put a cotton gin in his hand and said, get back out there. My dad grew up on a cotton field. Statistically, a lot of African Americans are not at that place.
Black people don’t have any money.
Black women make the least amount of money. By the way when SNL scouts for talent, they go to the major, elite comedy schools. They need the top people that can hang on their stage. At those places you’re not going to find many people of color because it’s so expensive. If there’s only 10% of white people that can afford it. Then there’s going to be like .2% of black people that can afford it. And those 2 percent are going to get a medical degree. They’re not going to get a comedy…unless they’re crazy like us.”
And then in the second video, they spoke about the lack of black, comedic, female role models.
You can watch the full discussion in the videos on the next page.
While everyone’s panties are still in a bunch over Keenan Thompson’s remarks regarding Saturday Night Live and its diversity problem, SNL has announced that Kerry Washington will host an upcoming episode of the show.
It goes without saying that the timing here is impeccable, as just yesterday Keenan was being ripped a new one for saying when it comes to the issue of black women being on the sketch comedy show,”they just never find ones that are ready.” Though he was speaking on black comedians, rather than seasoned actresses, throwing one of the hottest black faces around into the mix is definitely an Oliva Pope-esque PR move on SNL’s part.
Kerry Washington is slated to host the November 2 episode of SNL, and according to Entertainment Weekly, she’ll be joined by Eminem who’s dropping his next album November 5. This will be Kerry’s first time hosting the show, and since we’ve gotten so used to seeing the “Scandal” actress in a serious role, it’ll be fun to watch her show her humorous side. How do you think she’ll do?
You all heard about Kanye West dissing Justin Timberlake a couple of weeks ago in one of the rapper’s latest rants, right? While performing at London’s Hammerstein Apollo, he not so politely told the crowd:
“I got love for Hov but I ain’t f**king with that Suit & Tie.”
It was a facepalm moment for everyone listening, especially JT fans, but the “Suit and Tie” singer himself isn’t too worried about it. This weekend, he hit the set of Saturday Night Live and performed his latest hit and even took the time to remix it a little bit and get back at Kanye to the. Instead of the regular line in verse 2 of his hit song, “And aww, sh** so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit” he replaced it with:
“My hits so sick got rappers acting dramatic”
Dramatic is probably the best word to describe Kanye’s behavior, although immature, childish, and insecure would work too — if only they rhymed. I can only imagine how Ye felt when after that verse, Yeezy’s BFF Jay-Z came out to drop his “Suit and Tie” rap and seemed to be having quite a bit of fun doing so. Countdown to the next rant in 5,4,3,2,1…
Check out the performance, which was awesome even without the Kanye reference, below. What do you think?
From Black Voices
Victoria Jackson, former “Saturday Night Live” comedian turned ultra-conservative gadfly, delivered a rant on Thursday in which she targeted “Black History Month” and suggested that whites ought to create their own annual celebration.
“Now, that the white race is becoming a minority in America, perhaps we need to make … say, January, White History month,” she wrote on her website, according to the political blog Wonkette.
Read at BlackVoices.com.
Remember the shows All That and Kenan and Kel, starring friends Kenan Thompson and Kel Williams? Well, don’t expect to see them do any other work together anytime soon because according to Kel, Kenan wants nothing to do with him.
TMZ caught up with Kel when they found out his former partner in comedy is working on a new pilot with NBC. Since they worked together in the past, TMZ asked Kel if he would be making an appearance on the show. Kel reportedly told the crew, “The truth is, Kenan does not want to be seen with me in any form of media or even have my name mentioned around him.” Further, he told TMZ that the guys, who at one point were the epitome of best friends, were supposed to reunite for a magazine interview. However, Kenan pulled out at the last minute.
Kel insists he isn’t upset about it and understands that Kenan is probably trying to distance himself from Kel so he can make a name for himself. It seems he’s been fairly successful because he’s been part of theSaturday Night Live cast for quite some time. Kel, on the other hand, has remained very lowkey in Hollywood.
Finally, Kel says he’s not opposed to a reunion of some sort because he knows that many fans are always asking when that will happen. But he says he doesn’t see it ever happening because of how Kenan really feels.
Interesting. Usually when there’s bad blood on one or both sides, both parties know why there’s such tension. Kel seems to be a little oblivious as to the true reason Kenan doesn’t want to be bothered. It’s possible that something else happened and Kel doesn’t want to say and Kenan has just moved on.
Someone once told me that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. That was a long time ago, back when I was still wearing overalls and those clear sandals with the glitter on them, but it still rings true. Prime examples are when other cultures tan their skin, lock their hair, wear baggy garb and more. Over the past few decades, some of our favorite white celebrities and public figures have decided to do everything from rap, do black hair, wear grills and array of other very interesting things. A lot of these moments had us laughing more than we thought we would, and because of that, they deserve some recognition. Here’s a few white celebrities having some very “black” moments. And before you get your panties in a knot, these folks were having good, positive fun. Nothing offensive.
Before showcasing ballet skills as the black swan in Black Swan, SNL featured Natalie Portman, Harvard graduate and acclaimed actress, as a fiery and explicit rapper who took turned an innocent interview into a three minute opportunity to endorse drug and alcohol usage, threaten about a dozen people with bodily harm (and to go number two on their face), send love to Eazy-E and reject her fans. Done in good fun, the petite actress’ attempt at gangster (or “gangsta”?) was generally well-received.