Thursday, January 9, 2014

SNL with a Splash of Color

Some posts ago, I wrote about the lack of black women on Saturday Night Live.  It was heart breaking to see a show that was an American institution known for poking fun at pop culture yet their current talented cast could not fully cover it.  Beyonce, Nicki Minaji, and our First Lady Michele Obama are common names in pop culture but there was no one there to represent them. 

Thankfully, Lorne Micheals heard the outcry and decided to hold a casting call looking for African American females.  Out of that search we got the beautiful and funny Sasheer Zamata.  To get a taste of what she can do watch below:

Did you pee your pants laughing because I did. After I found out she was going to be the new cast member I started watching some of her stuff on YouTube.  To really make it on SNL you have to be diverse in what you can deliver.  The reason why Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Kristin Wiig are SNL legends is because of their ability to bring something extra to every character they portray.  I feel that Ms. Zamata can do that.  My only fear is that she gets stuck only playing the crazy baby mama, the ratchet girlfriend, or the angry black woman in every sketch. I want her to play characters like Target Lady, Gilly, or Mary Catherine Gallegher.  I have a strong feeling that this could happen and I will tell you why.
Left: LaKendra Tookes Right: Leslie Jones
On top of hiring a new black cast member, there has been two black female writers added also.  LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones who were discovered during the casting call will be new additions to SNL writers' room.  FYI: most of the writing staff are Harvard graduates middle age white males in case you ever wonder why you have never seen a sketch about four guys in a tense spades or dominoes game.  I can't wait to see what sketches will come from this.

Before the new episode airs on January 18 on NBC, I just want to give a couple of ground rules of watching SNL to those who might not be regular watchers:

New Cast Members Do Not Get A Lot of Camera Time Do not get butt hurt if you do not see Sasheer in every sketch.  It's well known that featured (or new cast members) do not get a lot of air time.  Featured cast members usually end up playing background characters or if they are on screen they usually only get a line or two.

SNL Loves to Make Fun of Stereotypes Yes, there will be times when Sasheer will play stereotypical black girls.  If you pay attention to some of the repeat characters on Weekend Update you will see that a lot of those characters are based on popular stereotypes.  In other words, leave your racial sensitivity at the door. 

Writers Sometimes Become Cast Members  If you are disappointed that LaKendra and Leslie are only writers, know that many times writers do make appearances in sketches and even become apart of the cast.  Tina Fey started off a writer on SNL and she ended up with her own TV show and hosting the Golden Globes.

Not Every Sketch is going to be Drop Dead Funny and Might be a Little Weird SNL does quite a few weird sketches.  The basic formula is pop culture references and repeat sketches before Weekend Update and weirder and more abstract sketches after Weekend Update.  Just go with it.  You might be pleasantly surprised with some of them.

Support, Support, Support If you were one of the people yelling "Diversify!!!" at SNL then you better tune in every Saturday night.  I don't care if you do not like the host or the musical guest, still tune in and root for Sasheer and the rest of the cast.  Remember, each new episode is presented to you  LIVE.  It takes real skills to do what they do.  We vote with our remotes.

I hope these rules will help you with your viewing of Saturday Night Live.  I am a huge fan of SNL and a new fan of Sasheer Zamata so I'm looking forward to this union.  Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@ebonymariere) and live tweet with me on Jaunary 18 at 11:30/10:30c  where Drake will be the host and musical guest. 

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