This weekend TV comedy giant “Saturday Night Live” celebrated it’s 40th year on air and Jerry Seinfeld came out for one of the skits, which happened to be a Q&A session where audience members, mostly filled with former and current cast members and celebrities. When former cast member Ellen Cleghorne (who is a Black woman) stood up and asked, “Why aren’t there more Black women,” we were prepared for “SNL” to finally address the big Black elephant in the room that’s plagued “SNL” for decades, but the exchange skimmed over the exclusion of Black women:
Ellen Cleghorne: “I wanted to know, why aren’t there more Black women?”
Jerry Seinfeld: “Oh, you mean on ‘SNL’?
Ellen Cleghorne: “No, in general.”
Ellen Cleghorne: “Because I was in the dentist the other day and I went in and there was only like one or two Black women and I was like, what?” “I was like, wouldn’t it be cool if there were more, like Black women popping out of drawers and stuff?”
Jerry Seinfeld: “I’m for having Black women everywhere.”
Ellen Cleghorne: “Great, cool. How many Black women were on the Seinfeld show?”
Jerry Seinfeld: “Good point, Ellen. We did not do all we could to cure society’s ills. You care correct. Mea culpa….other questions.”
Can we just stop reliving this joke and just have “SNL” hire Black comedians? Ellen Cleghorne was on “Saturday Night Live” from 1991 to 1995. She’s the second Black female comedian to be on the show, succeeding Danitra Vance.
Eric Deggans of NPR told NewsOne Now’s Roland Martin, “TV execs will never say, but they believe that Black people will not respond to quality TV.” Is this why so many shows like “Saturday Night Live” keeps us off their payroll because we don’t respond to quality TV? But we do though. Two quality programs that happen to star mostly Black people are both doing very well. “Empire” and “Bring It!” average 10.3 million and 1.8 million viewers, respectively. Let’s just assume that half of these viewers are Black–we’d say you have more than enough Black people responding to quality TV. Maybe we’re “not responding” because they’re not offering us enough images that reflect what we see in the mirror?
It’s been five years since a woman who looks remotely ethnic has been cast on “Saturday Night Live,” but that has all changed after a nationwide talent search brought newest cast Black woman cast member Sasheer Zamata. Too bad it took a controversial comment from Black former “SNL” comedian Kenan Thompson about the lack of diversity on the cast for Zamata to get the job. Thompson told TVGuide.com that finding funny black female sketch comics is “just a tough part of the business. Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
Finally Black women have “proved” themselves “worthy” to be on sketch comedy and variety shows like “Saturday Night Live.” Chris Rock was able to get “SNL” to hire fellow Black cast member (who has written for the show for a year), Leslie Jones. When Kerry Washington hosted the show in 2014 and brought the ratings to an all-time high. So obviously Black girls can get ratings too!
While we appreciated “SNL” even bringing up the issue of the lack of Black faces on their program, we’re disappointed with how they glazed over it and no, it’s not funny. Just hire us already!
What do you think beauties? Sound off in the comments below.