All Articles Tagged "SNL"

Leslie Jones Hired As SNL Cast Member, 5 Months After Controversial Slave Joke

October 21st, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Leslie Jones Hired

Leslie Jones Site

This past May, Saturday Night Live writer Leslie Jones was heavily criticized for a joke she told on-air regarding slavery. She claimed if she was a slave her love life would be better because plantation owners would have arranged a relationship for her. A risky joke alluding to slave-breeding, it was deemed hilarious and/or awful by many.

Whether you thought the controversial joke was hilarious or uncouth, there’s much more of her to come. Jones has been hired to join the SNL cast as a full-time member. People magazine reports, Jones initially auditioned last year for the role but it was given to Sasheer Zamata. Although she was not hired as a cast member initially, Jones made appearances on the show’s “Weekend Update” segment.

Jones’ first appearance as a full-time cast member will be on October 25 when comedian Jim Carey hosts the show. She will also continue as a writer for SNL.

Here is the video of Jones performing her controversial slave joke.

Are you excited to see more of Jones in front of the camera?

SNL Gives The Official Explanation Of The Jay-Z and Solange Elevator Fight

May 18th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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SNL Explains Solange and Jay-Z Elevator Fight

We have to hand it to SNL. After a few years of questionable comedy, the show has been redeeming itself lately. Last week they had viewers taking extra caution not to say Beyonce’s name in vain for fear of The Beygency. Last night’s episode gave the official lowdown on just why the elevator altercation went down between sister Solange and Jay-Z, with an appearance from someone whom we feel doesn’t nearly get enough credit, Julius The Bodyguard.

Comedienne Sasheer Zamata played “Solange”, Jay Pharaoh did an uncanny mimic of “Jay-Z” and Keenan Thompson got a few laughs as “Julius”. Even Maya Rudolph makes an appearance as the Queen Bey herself to put on blast The Standard security guard who leaked the surveillance video.

You’ll never guess why the assault went down.  It all makes so much sense now.  Peep the clip below:

The Beygency: If You Don’t Like Bey, You Pay

May 4th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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superfruit covers beyonce

WENN

SNL included Spiderman star Andrew Garfield on some “Beysus” epidemic fun last night in a skit called “The Beygency”.

The four-minute clip opens with Garfield’s character hanging out with some friends and having some drinks. When the conversation turns to Beyonce, his character makes a big mistake by admitting that he isn’t the biggest fan of “Drunk In Love”. The comment sets off a collision course in his life as a group of secret agents known as “The Beygency” begin to hunt him down erasing his life as he knows it along the way. Even 24 actor Kiefer Sutherland tries to aid him as he runs from The Beygency.

The skit is seriously laugh out loud funny, as it mocks just how real it can get when you choose to rumble with the Beyhive. It’s kind of like how an outsider feels before they hit the “Post” button in a Youtube in a comments section on a Bey song that they’ve found the courage to say isn’t all that great. View the clip below (Warning, it’s Rated NC-17 for Mild Language Against Beyonce):

Comedian Kenan Thompson Terrified At His Impending Fatherhood

March 13th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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Jeff Grossman/WENN

Jeff Grossman/WENN

From EurWeb
“Saturday Night Live” star Kenan Thompson and his wife Christina Evangeline are expecting their first child – a daughter – in late June, and the actor is already stressing out.“I’m about to be a daddy. Papa Kenan! I am terrified. I don’t know what to do with babies. I plan to be at the casino when she’s giving birth, like old schoolin’ it,” Thompson, 35, joked Friday on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”Even accompanying his wife to routine prenatal checkups is freaking him out.“That’s what’s freaking me out the most. A guy’s doctor visit is straightforward — just a little cough, a little touch here, a little ear, nose and throat. But women, that’s an intricate situation. You go through a lot — I applaud you,” Thompson says.

Read more about Kenan Thompson and fatherhood at EurWeb.com

To The Folks Calling Sasheer Zamata’s Addition To SNL Discrimination

January 10th, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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Source: Sasheer.com

Source: Sasheer.com

As reported by various news outlets, Sasheer Zamata will become the first black female cast member on Saturday Night Live since Maya Rudolph, left over five years ago.

Although the new hire spells great opportunity for the young New York-based comedienne as well as positive press for SNL, which has been caught up in controversy over lack of cast diversity, not everyone is feeling the decision. More specifically, Variety’s digital editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein, who in the piece Diversity Done Wrong: How ‘SNL’ Mishandled Casting a Black Womanwrites that Zamata’s hiring was not only a publicity stunt but also discrimination.

He also writes:

The primary problem is the move to demonstrate “SNL” isn’t prejudiced was in and of itself an act of prejudice. While “first black woman in five years” makes for a compelling soundbite, it’s not as if “SNL” has no African-Americans at all. But lost amid all this attention on African-American women is that there currently are no Hispanics or Asians of either gender on “SNL,” which has also been the subject of criticism.

Making finding a black female in particular a priority over other racial groups sets up an absurd hierarchy of diversity needs. Think of how much more sense it would have made if “SNL,” having felt so compelled to make such a public demonstration of its diversity outreach, hadn’t excluded anyone who wasn’t a black female and just made it a casting call about finding another funny person of any type.

It’s always funny when white folks rail on about merit, hierarchy of diversity needs (seriously?) and affirmative action when sitting comfortably in mostly white work spaces (and yes that was a jab at the journalism industry). In other words, most of the cast of Saturday Night Live‘s entire run have been white men, however, that does not mean that all those white male cast members have been funny, or the funniest comedians to cast for the show. Some (without naming names) were kind of mediocre. And their mediocrity was likely aided on by all white executives, scouts and others white folks in positions of authority, who cast the show based upon their own personal preferences, as opposed to who – and even what is – funny. Therefore, if bias is intentional than so is diversity. And let’s be real here: mainstream America (white folks in authority) has a pretty messed up track record of doing the right thing racially, when judging solely upon merit. I’m talking historic-level of f**kery here. Every bit of diversity in this country has came by way of force, pressure and flat-out intention. Every bit of it.

Merit-based hiring and labor (because that is ultimately what we are talking about here) means leaving the decision making exclusively in the hands of folks like Wallenstein, who can say rather cluelessly “it’s not as if “SNL” has no African-Americans at all,”without taking into account that those two African Americans are actually both men. And black men and women are not interchangeable, despite SNL and Keenan Thompson best effort to make us think so.

I think it is laughable that Wallenstein sees the hiring of black women as some sort of affront to other women of color. Historically and statistically speaking, black people, in particular black women, have never been on the top of hierarchy in America. Therefore the fact that Black folks were able to pressure a show into doing the right thing in terms of having black comediennes play and define black comedic characters, only strengthens the causes of other marginalized, who too find themselves on the outside of the joke.

And as amusingly articulated by Dan Obeidallah, an Arab-American and former Saturday Night Live staffer, who writes in his piece, ‘SNL’ Gets What the Rest of TV Should: Racial Diversity Means Quality:

Adding diversity to a comedy show—or to any show for that matter—simply to fill a quota would be wrong. But as a comedian and as someone who worked at SNL on the production staff from 1999-2007, I can tell you that greater diversity truly does equal better comedy. Authentic voices representing different backgrounds only enhance the comedy stew. So instead of one-note comedy bits, we see nuanced ones that resonate as being truthful—which in turn is better comedy.

We’ve all seen the panel of three white guys telling us “what the Arab world is really thinking.”

And I say this from first-hand experience. When I worked at SNL, I was the only person on the production staff of Arab heritage. Consequently, when writers were working on sketches that dealt with the Middle East—and believe me, there were a lot in the years after 9/11- they would often ask me questions. Some were factual inquires. Others were: “Is this racist?” If I sad “yes” they made sure to put it in the sketch. (Kidding!)”

The good news is the Zamata will not be the only black woman joining the show this season, thus avoiding the “token,” label. According to the Hollywood Reporter, LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones, will also be joining on to SNL crew as part of the writing team. Interestingly enough, the article states that Tookes and Jones were also “discovered” during the same black comedienne talent hunt, in which they discovered Zamata. I find that partly odd considering that I had “discovered” Jones, aka Big Les, a while ago, more specifically watching her comedy show Problem Child on Netflix. She is pretty raw, non-politically correct and seriously funny. And she is not a newcomer to the comedy world, which just goes to show you hard Lorne Michaels and his SNL team have been “searching” for diverse talent prior to their recent hires…

SNL’s Unorthodox ‘Diversity’ Audition Process Could Hurt Sasheer Zamata

January 9th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Sasheer ZamataSaturday Night Live‘s efforts to “diversify” their staff reminds me of a college brochure. “Oh let’s throw in a black guy in the front page — y’know — so students think we’re multicultural.” I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be “sprinkled in” for added effect. I’d want to be the prime selection, front-and-center, for the university’s pamphlet.

And this is how I perceive SNL‘s first black female cast member since 2007, Sasheer Zamata. She’s the token black girl — “Scary Spice” or Saved By The Bell‘s Lisa Turtle — to create the illusion of heterogeneity.

“No matter how talented this young woman is,” Variety‘s Andrew Wallenstein wrote, “the special circumstances surrounding her hire put an asterisk next to her name that wouldn’t have to be there had she just been brought in during the traditional casting process.”

Wallenstein, under an opinion piece titled “How ‘SNL’ Mishandled Casting a Black Woman,” explains that while SNL‘s efforts to seem more inclusive is noble, the way they casted Zamata was a big ol’ mess. And for the most part, I agree.

When SNL opened up their auditions for African-American women only, I know I’m not the only one that heard, “Alright, alright! Shut up already! See? We’re going to hire a Black woman damnit!” SNL‘s mid-December auditions were out-of-the-ordinary. The sketch show never had open casting calls.

How Comedians (Usually) Become An SNL Cast Member:

1. Talent scouts usually pull comedians from four respected comedy clubs: Second City, Improv Olympic, the UCB Theater, and the Groundlings. Comedians at these venues are “seasoned performer[s] who can better handle all the rigors of being on a live TV show,” according to Mental Floss.

2. They will invite you to do a 10-minute performance in front of a live, paying audience. Comics can do celebrity impressions or a stand-up routine. 

3. Before you’re called to do your audition, they put you through professional hair and makeup. “You’re looking along the walls at all the past cast members. It’s just hitting you, and you’re trying not to vomit,” Will Ferrell said as he reminisces his wait in the dressing room.

4. Should you impress the recruiters, you’ll get a call that will change your life forever.

And it all just makes you wonder: Will Zamata be just as respected for her position on SNL as her co-stars? In a sense, the public pushed SNL into a corner and demanded they hire black women. Zamata’s predecessors, on the other hand, were hired without a figurative gun to the head.

While Zamata seems qualified, SNL‘s atypical audition process discredits her as just the “affirmative action” pick — the girl chosen just to appease the diversity defenders.

“If it took a supplemental measure for her to make the team,” Wallenstein adds, “a nagging unanswered question is left looming over her: Did ‘SNL’ relax its strict standards for admission in fear of public pressure?”

Look at it this way: If you’ve been through hell and back to get into a Greek organization, you probably won’t take kindly to new recruits who get off easy. For the sake of solidarity and tradition, you want all your sorors to go through the same challenging recruitment process as yourself.

In this scenario, Zamata — and  SNL‘s new Black writers LeKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones — are the “new sisters” who slipped through the cracks.

SNL should’ve stuck by their traditional hiring process. Scout the big comedy clubs, such as New York’s Upright Citizens Bridage (UCB) where Tina Fey was discovered, while zooming in on Black entertainers. And don’t tell that me there are no Black comedians at these venues because guess what? Zamata was part of the UCB troupe herself.

Don Lemon Advises Sasheer Zamata To Be Funnier Than She Is Black

January 8th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Twitter/Sasheer.com

Twitter/Sasheer.com

A few days ago, we happily reported Saturday Night Live hired their first black female cast member in five years. On January 18, Sasheer Zamata will premiere her comedy and acting skills on SNL, but of course before she does so, Don Lemon had to send a word of advice to her. While on the Tom Joyner Morning Show, Lemon revealed how he felt about Zamata receiving her new position.

“Look for a Beyoncé spoof for sure, something Zamata says she’s good at, and you’ll probably see a wicked Michelle Obama impersonation. You can also look for a whole lot of scrutiny and criticism from some who are looking for an excuse to say she got her job to fill a quota because she’s black. That always happens from people who don’t understand the need for diversity and who don’t understand why it’s important to expand and enhance traditional recruiting methods to find diverse talent. That said, it probably won’t be easy for Zamata—who, in the glaring spotlight that’s about to be trained on her, is going to have to be a whole lot funnier than she is black.”

While his last statement regarding Zamata to be funnier than her race perplexes some, Lemon makes sense. Black women are complex when it comes to their concerns about their identity and how they would like to be portrayed in the mainstream. By being the only black woman on SNL,  Zamata will need to learn how to balance the pressure from the African American community to take into account multiple layers and identities. Also, though humor varies among black women, most of us would rather laugh about certain social/race issues behind closed doors. With the humor SNL indulges in, do you think the producers will make Zamata perform controversial spoofs?

Listen to Don Lemon’s full view on the subject here. What do you think?

Marissa Mayer Announces New Digital Magazine & ‘Yahoo! Tech’ At CES

January 8th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on stage at CES. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer on stage at CES. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“Yahoo is about making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining,” said Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Tuesday. In line with this mission, Yahoo is launching a new short-and-sweet digital magazine and a visually-focused Yahoo Tech page to match their fast-paced, restless readers.

“We’ve all had that experience with articles that are TLDR,” said Mayer. What the heck is TLDR, you ask? “‘Too long, didn’t read,'” Mayer clarifies. To solve this problem, Yahoo has come up with “Yahoo! News Digest,” a digital outlet that aggregates all the current info on sports, politics, U.S. news and more.

But what makes this app perfect for this gotta-go generation is that it only delivers the top nine stories of that day. Yahoo News Digest will also feature “atoms” to heighten engagement with its users.

“Atoms are other bits of information, like stock tickers, quotes, tweets, videos, maps, and other things that directly relate to and enhance the story,” Business Insider reports.

This idea was snatched from Summly, a mobile start-up, which Yahoo acquired for $30 million. What’s even more interesting is the face behind Summly — an 18-year-old Australian computer programmer. That’s right… A teenager was behind the incorporation of this new widget that incorporates technology and journalism in an interactive way.

“At its core, it simplifies news and eliminates the problem of information overload.”said Nick D’Aloisio at CES.

Also among the big news announced is Yahoo Tech! “There are already plenty of websites about technology,” admits David Pogue, a former New York Times writer hired to helm Yahoo Tech. “The thing is that they’re by geeks, for geeks,” said Pogue, alluding that their articles have too much mumbo jumbo.

Yahoo Tech will tell you which devices you should buy, but it will also tell you how you should use it. Expect tutorials and easy-to-understand instructions on how to maneuver around your desired device. “At Yahoo Tech, we have a language we’re going to speak and it’s called English,” Pogue jokes.

Yahoo’s presentation at CES certainly turned heads as the web giant brought Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong to help launch Yahoo News Digest. Adding to the star power, Katie Couric — who made headlines by leaving ABC News for Yahoo — was present as well.

“Yahoo, under Marissa’s leadership, has shown a real commitment to the quality content that will help us all have a much better understanding of this complicated, noisy, wonderful world,” Couric said.

After the last quarterly earnings were reported in October, USA Today wrote, “Mayer has righted the ship since joining Yahoo about 15 months ago, spurring a major recovery in its shares, which have more than doubled in the period,” though there was a small drop in revenue. Still, there’s a lot more coming from Yahoo to appeal to consumers. Are you a Yahoo devotee? Becoming one?

Meet Sasheer Zamata, The First Black Female Saturday Night Live Cast Member In Five Years

January 6th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Sasheer Zamata

Courtesy of Sasheer.com

After some questionable comments by Kenan Thompson, some criticism from the public, and a showcase for black female comediennes that was at one point looked at as a publicity stunt, Saturday Night Live has finally added their first black comedienne to the show since Maya Rudolph left as a cast member in 2007. Her name is Sasheer Zamata, and according to Deadline, she will make her debut on the show on January 18, the same episode that will be hosted by Drake, who will also be the musical guest. Our fingers are crossed that the two will be featured in a skit together.

According to USA Today, Zamata graduated from the University of Virginia and received her comedic training at theUpright Citizens Brigade Theatre here in NYC. She was among 12 comedians who were invited to test for a spot on the show in December (which also reportedly included black comediennes Kerry Coddett and Natasha Rothwell). Seeing as how she’s the only new face to be announced, her casting could be part of a way for Lorne Michaels and the folks at SNL to hush up their critics, but whatever it is, a talented sista has a job! And I can attest to the fact that Zamata is hilarious, and you will be able to as well after you check out the clip below of her skit on dealing with a perverted dude trying to holler at her in NYC (be prepared, the d-word is used quite a few times). Zamata will join Rudolph, Yvonne Hudson, Danitra Vance and Ellen Cleghorne as black female comediennes who have received a shot on the show. Congrats!

Come Thru: Drake To Host “SNL” In January

December 23rd, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Looks like “Saturday Night Live” is all about color these days. First, it was Kerry, then there was the showcase for black comediennes and now Drake is set to host the show. Yup, October’s own is returning to his acting roots. Many of you may remember a time when Drake played the character ‘Jimmy Brooks’ aka ‘Wheelchair Jimmy’ on the Teen Nick show “Degrassi: The Next Generation” And now, Drake is sharpening up his acting chops once again as he’s set to host “Saturday Night Live” when the show comes back for a new season.

The rapper will serve as the host and musical guest for the January 18 show, according to an announcement made on SNL this past Saturday…obviously.

Drake joins the list of growing musical acts who’ve hosted, including Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and most amusingly Justin Timberlake. The list could use a bit more color…though it’s hard to find funny artists.

Perhaps the folks behind “SNL” felt Drake could pull this hosting gig off after he appeared in the “Weekend Update” segment in 2011, when he performed as the show’s musical guest. Go ahead and click the link, it was quite hilarious.

Will you be tuning in to “SNL” to catch Drake?