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SNL, Kerry Washington, Al Sharpton Take A Bite Out Of 'Black Women Cast Members' Controversy

Television
by Tambay A. Obenson
November 3, 2013 10:36 AM
18 Comments
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We've talked this issue to death already (read HERE & HERE to start), so I'll say no more. Just watch the below intro skit from last night's Saturday Night Life episode, all the way through. 

I'm looking forward to seeing last night's ratings, because, given how active my Twitter and Facebook feeds were while the show aired - certainly a divided bunch (some criticized certain skit selections; others praised Kerry Washington's comedic abilities) - I'd say this will likely be one of the most-watched SNL episodes this year. 

When I have the numbers, I'll share.

In the meantime...

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18 Comments

  • ROB SHAPIRO | November 4, 2013 2:05 AMReply

    thank GOD there werent "ENOUGH" WHITE men on the keanan bros sketch show .. other wise we wouldnt even have noticed jim carrey! what a stupid complaint! hell there isnt ANY TALENT WHATSOEVER IN FILMS OR TV ANYMORE!! ESPECIALLY ON SITCOMS SKETCH SHOWS LIVE STAGES *(ESP IMPROV groups) ESP STAND-UP COMEDY !ESPECIALLY COMEDY-PERIOD! and especially sat night boring!! theres no talent on any comedy tv show at all these days.. no matter what color!!
    by the way MS. Washingtomn is a brilliant crafted skilled studied trained dedicated dramatic actor that's why shes sucj an amazing comedic actress and has such powerful presence.. look how bland and tiny the "snl "pro" comedians held up next to HER!!!

  • Tony | November 4, 2013 10:27 PM

    So true. The host is usually there for ratings and to look pretty. She put all those so-called comedians to shame.

  • albert | November 3, 2013 9:37 PMReply

    That being said, there are many improv
    training schools open to all. We need to get
    the word out to artists of color and make
    our presence known in the imrov arena.
    We can do it! So let's put the work in and
    make it happen. Please pardon my typos.
    I'm sending this from my phone and I keep
    getting obstructed by pop up ads. But pop
    ups can't hold a brother back !!!

  • albert | November 3, 2013 9:19 PMReply

    In response to the issue at hand: sketch comedy is very specific and
    has requires a different dynamic than stand up. I got my first agent
    doing stand up and I have performed sketch comedy to a lesser degree.
    I have even taken a couple intro to improv classes at Second City in Chicago
    and it was lots of fun.

  • BLK FUNNY HISTORIAN | November 3, 2013 6:30 PMReply

    Dear DONNA BAILEY and other Part-Time Media Critics who rant without the support of facts;

    Eddie Murphy NEVER had this encounter with Lorne Micheals that you speak of because during the years of 1980-1985 Dick Ebersol was the Executive Producer/Showrunner/ HNIC of the show.

    "...Michaels has been with SNL for all seasons except for his hiatus in the early 1980s (seasons 6–10)."
    Quoted from:
    (Lorne Micheals Wikipedia they wont let me paste links)

    Eddie was on from 1980-1984, which means if they just missed each other by a year.

    check Eddie's wikipedia ( they wont let me paste links)

    What you are referring to is a conflict Eddie had with Jean Doumanian, who was a producer during Eddie's first year as a featured player. He thought Doumanian was trying to "Garret Morris" him.

    check Garret Morris wikipedia ( they wont let me paste links)

    And in true Poetic Justice form Jean Doumanian was packing her bags the next year and Eddie became a full cast member. And if you read her Wiki she seems to bring hell with her wherever she goes, Ask Woody Allen.

    check wikipedia ( they wont let me paste links)

    I only address this topic with such surgical accuracy to show how "Ish" gets started by not checking facts. What Keenan says is TRUE. Pause, and Listen to me... Before We start calling Keenan Uncle Tom (or Ruckus- take your pick depending on what side of 1985 you were born in) let's examine what he said;

    "It's just a tough part of the business," Thompson says. "Like in auditions, THEY (the producers) just never find ONES (black female comediennes) that are ready."

    (find the ORIGINAL TV GUIDE article they won't let me paste links)

    (and we shouldn't be baited into this because the writing is meant to create conflict- I saw a post concerning this topic with the headline, KEENAN THOMPSON SAYS BLACK WOMEN AREN'T FUNNY- sure to trigger a debate)

    What's needed here is better talent executive and deeper search outside of what comics are currently managed by big talent and management agencies; I want every one of you reading this to dig deep in your minds, using Maya Rudolph as a Barometer name 5 black female comedians that are on the public's radar that have the range to do full-blown Characters, Accents, Physical Humor, Sing and Dance (or at least fake it) and DEAD ON Impressions right now QUICK!

    ............. ( this is me waiting)
    And you can't, and this is what Keenan is saying, these woman, and they are out there aren't getting the shot and the person probably getting the audition is probably a Luenel, a Monique, or a Sommore... and while I find them all hysterical THEY are not Maya Rudolph and that's what SNL is looking for.

    Jay Pharoah, stated some girl from a Tyler Perry show is funny enough- Well her agent needs to get her OFF that show- because she'll never be on the radar of the people who make casting decisions for SNL.

    In closing just so you know I'm not an Uncle Tom, Ruckus, or Remus... Here's my list of five Black Women who have the range necessary to be on SNL- but don't necessarily have the heat, PR machine, Managers or Agents to get them the audition. So I urge you to find them on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube so that they get the hits to bring them to the attention of someone who can get them the audition.
    1.) IVA LASHAWN
    2.)MONIE MON'
    3.)NIKA WILLIAMS
    4.)BRESHA WEBB
    5.)CANDACE THOMPSON
    Look em up!

  • slb | November 4, 2013 2:11 PM

    @BLK FUNNY HISTORIAN: I agree with your comment about fact checking and appreciate you took the time to set the record straight.

    One thing I want to address is this comment you made: "I want every one of you reading this to dig deep in your minds, using Maya Rudolph as a Barometer name 5 black female comedians that are on the public's radar that have the range to do full-blown Characters, Accents, Physical Humor, Sing and Dance (or at least fake it) and DEAD ON Impressions right now QUICK!"

    The five white guys and one white woman weren't comedian's on the public's radar that can do all of the above. NOBODY in the general public had heard of any of those people before they were announced as cast members. With the exception of the AT&T commercial guy and even then, people don't know his name. Just his face and his voice.

    That's the broader issue. They got "no name" white performers where they could have easily gotten "no name" performers of color. You identified some people you thought would be good for SNL. Why can't SNL's producers track those people down? I do not think SNL is going the extra mile to find performers in order to diversify their cast. They're doing what they know. What they've done for the past 40 years. They're going to UCB, Groundlings, and Second City. But it's 2013, there are many talented performers who aren't part of these troupes. You will find these folks on youtube.com, funnyordie.com, twitter, facebook, etc.. SNL should branch out and embrace these knew sources of talent.

  • Donna Bailey | November 3, 2013 3:31 PMReply

    I did not watch last night but did read an interview with Eddie Murphy a number of years ago that turned me off regarding SNL. Eddieas not a full time performer, he was a featured he to beg Lorne Michaels for more airtime but Michaels would tell him he wasn't ready!!! Eddie said he felt Michaels was racist. In addition SNL proceeded to make fun of Eddie's career after he left SNL. Eddie called to complain. Kevin Thompson is the first black performer on SNL.

  • No | November 3, 2013 2:50 PMReply

    Everything was going well until Al Sharpton showed with his non-amusing self. It should have ended after the scrolling text with Killiam and Pharaoh, looking awkward, but finally shouting "Live From New York..."

  • Alias | November 3, 2013 2:43 PMReply

    Kerry had some real solid performances last night, and showed great comedic range. By far the opening skit with her was the best -- and most cleverly written of the entire night.

    However, the writing, and regular not-ready-for primetime players are just dreadful!!!

    I hadn't watched an opening SNL sketch since Tina Fey was on as Sarah Palin.

    According to Deadline her show was the most watched of the season. Obviously all of the controversy surrounding the lack of black women comics helped draw additional interest.

  • Jason Gilmore | November 3, 2013 2:17 PMReply

    Once I read their oral history (a fascinating read, if you're at all a fan of the entertainment industry), all my questions about this sort of thing were forever answered. It is not of interest to them and this disinterest is woven into their DNA fabric, starting from how they treated Garrett Morris on down to Damon Wayans, Chris Rock, the late Danitra Vance etc. Eddie Murphy only happened because 1) the show was on the ropes after the departure of the original cast 2) Eddie was a friggin unstoppable force of nature.

    When Maya Rudolph hosted, they got it right. But this was after her being a beloved cast member for 474576 years and even then, the studio audience wasn't laughing nearly as hard as I was. They don't want to showcase black talent to any degree past fulfilling a quota (no disrespect to Jay & Kenan) and they're not going to anytime soon.

    If you're throwing the party, you get to invite who you want.

  • Monique a Williams | November 3, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    Kerry Washington and her fine acting proved that no matter how amazing a Black female cast member is, she can't save a terrible show. Those skits were terrible. SNL is no Holy Grail.

  • Justin D. | November 3, 2013 1:12 PMReply

    SNL sucks anyway. I haven't watched it in years, so they can cast whoever they like.

  • Mark and Darla | November 3, 2013 12:30 PMReply

    God is my witness, forgot about show and Kerry hosting and that the truth. The sketch wasn't even funny.

  • sheree | November 3, 2013 12:21 PMReply

    What I got:
    1. They are aware of whos watching/not watching their show.
    2. They read indiewire.shadowandact.
    3. They knew we knew few black women are on this show.
    4. They don't care.
    I don't watch SnL. Its never funny and the few times I was interested was due to Tina Fey mocking Sarah Palin. Shes a real hoot.
    I say keep black people away from that show. Many are more talented than that show will allow, as I feel the industry as a whole does that anyway; keeps talented people on the bottom and lets wannabes to the top. Talented people aren't puppets. Wannabes are.

  • CareyCarey | November 3, 2013 12:09 PMReply

    An Affront To Black Viewers - OR - Balls Of Steels? You make the call.

    Well, lets see, SNL basically pulled down their pants, turned around and told the complainers to kiss their nasty ass. Yep, they said, we hear you but this is our show and we will do whatever we please. And, if you don't believe us we have one of your potentates, the pulpit pimp, brother Al Sharpton to bring the bad news.

    But come to think of it, that does require balls of steel, doesn't it? I mean, they have to know it's crying time all over again, right?

    OH... I get it... they've pimped us once again. We'll show up with vengeance in our hearts but they'll have big money in their pockets as the ratings climb to the top of the mountain.

    Goddamn, I don't know about y'all but I feel violated. They're fking us and whipping us without even touching us.

  • CareyCarey | November 4, 2013 2:26 PM

    Yep, Yup and Ditto Ms. B and SLB, I see there are those who see the big picture. In fact SLB, I heard you when you said... "I didn't watch--SNL won't be pimping me for ratings while they're claiming that there are no qualified black women ready for their casts. [Nah-nah, no-no, dain't gonna happen].... They'll trot out whoever's hot on the black interwebz to host and give ya'll some red meat every now and then, but it will be wackness as usual in the writer's room and cast-wise the following week. And Bishop Don Magic Michaels laughs all the way to the bank [ this is one black sistah they will not be escorting on the ho stroll]"

    Well SLB, I couldn't have said it better.

  • slb | November 4, 2013 1:52 PM

    Yup.

  • B | November 3, 2013 7:36 PM

    Ditto

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