That Time SNL’s Kenan Thompson Erased Black Women From Comedy…And From Pop Culture

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    Kenan Thompson

    We’re sure you’ve heard by now.

    Kenan Thompson of Saturday Night Live believes there are no women of color on the famous comedy sketch show because of the lack of quality black comediennes in that space. Yep, he went there during a TV Guide interview, which you can read here.

    He just put it all out there. Like we wouldn’t notice at all (oh, clearly we wouldn’t notice, because we don’t exist…but I’ll get to that later).

    Anyway, here’s exactly what he said:

    “It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson says. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”

    Which is interesting to say the least. “Part of the business,” which implies what exactly? That black women just don’t have a place in the white-male dominated world of SNL or in popular sketch comedy, period? Oh wait, they don’t exist at all, apparently. Because even in auditions, “they never find ones that are ready.” Which clearly implies there’s not even a pool of black women to choose from. They aren’t there. It’s all a myth. Black women just aren’t funny. Sorry.

    They being Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of SNL, who we should be blaming for the lack of diversity on the show. Instead Thompson, also black, has reduced the lack of diversity to this — the fault lies with those diverse women the show lacks.

    I, for one, am not sure how black comediennes are carrying that blame if said sketch-show doesn’t believe black women exist at all. If funny black women are an urban legend to SNL producers, how can they even be blessed with an invite-only audition to showcase their skills?

    It’s simple. They can’t. (By the way, don’t dare tell me there aren’t up and coming black women who aren’t funny as hell. Check out this short list, which doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface, but it’s a start).

    Ta-Da! Have we pinpointed the real issue here, Kenan?

    It’s something SNL’s “other” minority funny man understands. When The Grio asked Jay Pharoah about the lack of diversity on the show, he had this to say:

    “They need to pay attention,” Pharoah tells theGrio. “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. She needs to be on SNL. I said it. And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year.”

    Pharoah is also down with the “bring a black woman on board” mission at SNL because he’s just not here for the donning of dresses to play Beyonce or Kerry Washington. Because, hello, the black-man-in-drag stint had to be buried like yesterday.

    And could it be that, Thompson (who dare I say I thoroughly enjoyed when paired with Kel), just isn’t ready to give that up, despite his comments that he was finished playing in drag to get a few laughs? Could his comment throwing black comediennes under the bus be a strategic blow to those funny gals to preserve his own employment? Let’s not ignore the fact that to date he’s played Mo’Nique, Raven-Symoné, Maya Angelou, Jennifer Hudson, Lil’ Kim, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan and that list isn’t even complete.

    In all fairness, he seems to be serious about not basing his career off of playing Whoopi Goldberg on The View. And when asked who would play popular black women now that he and Pharaoh have refused to put on a wig, he said this:

    “I don’t know. We just haven’t done them. That’s what I’m saying. Maybe Jay Pharaoh will do it or something, but even he doesn’t really want to do it.”

    Which presents an even larger issue with SNL. If there are no black women to play…well, black women…and no black men willing to make their living dressing up as black women, who will represent black women in these sketches based off of popular culture?

    No one.

    So in a nutshell, black women have just been erased from the pop culture that we so CLEARLY dominate. Sorry folks, that means zero funny sketches on Rihanna, Beyonce, Oprah, Michelle Obama, or our beloved character Olivia Pope.

    And according to one “comedic genius” who has made most of his money playing black women in pop culture, it is because we’re simply “not ready.” Apparently, he can do it better. If he chooses to do it at all.

    I wasn’t sure black women could become even more invisible than they already were. What the fuck just happened here?

    Christina Coleman 

    Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that. Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole for all things news & politics. Oh. And afros.

    PHOTO CREDIT: Buzzfeed

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