Kenan Thompson Thinks SNL Needs More Gender and Ethnic Diversity – Do You Still Watch? [POLL]
If I’m up on Saturday night and I don’t want to see a rerun of “Homeland,” I’ll put on SNL just for the hell of it.
Some skits are pretty funny – it’s the ones that try too hard to be funny that fall flat.
But that’s not the issue here.
One of the main characters, Kenan Thompson, feels the talent pool is thin due to the lack of diversity on the show.
He feels there aren’t enough ethnic females represented – despite what he feels is a large pool of talent both on other TV shows and in the clubs.
And as a result of that, he’s refusing to play black female characters.
The lack of gender and ethnic diversity on the set of "Saturday Night Live" is no laughing matter.
But comedian Kenan Thompson, 35, isn't putting his foot down about that. Instead, he's vowed to no longer play black female characters on the long-running sketch comedy series as he's done in the past, reports TV Guide.
"Maybe [Jay Pharoah] will do it or something, but even he doesn't really want to do it," Thompson said about his only black co-star.
The former Nickelodeon star has dressed in drag to portray the likes of Whoopi Goldberg, Maya Angelou and Star Jones because there just aren't any black women on the show to fill in.
But after "SNL" announced Season 39's cast that reportedly shocked many when the lineup included no black women for the sixth year in a row, Thompson didn't speak out against the show. Instead, he pointed to the lack of talent there is to select from.
"It's just a tough part of the business," he said. "Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready."
However, Pharaoh, 26, who is well-known for his President Obama impersonation, was a bit more candid about the show's lack of diversity in an interview for theGrio in September.
"They need to pay attention," he said of the show's executives before suggesting Darmirra Brunson, a strong black female comedian, who currently appears on Tyler Perry's "Love Thy Neighbor," as a potential cast member.
"Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she's black first of all, and she's really talented," he added. "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."
Out of 16 current cast members only three are actors of color including Thompson, Pharaoh, and Nasim Pedrad of Iranian descent. In fact, since the comedy series first began there have been as few as four black female comedians on the show including the latest, Maya Rudolph, who departed in 2007. Since then, no new black females have been cast.
The lack of diversity is also reflected in the choice of "SNL" hosts. According to TVLine.com, out of 90 episodes since Season 35 there have been just two black women hosts - Gabourey Sidibe in April 2010 and Maya Rudolph in February 2012 - and two Latinas - Jennifer Lopez and Sofia Vergara.
However, TVLine.com points out that Miley Cyrus, January Jones, Eli Manning and Taylor Lautner have all returned as hosts twice.
(And, oh by the way, Kerry Washington of "Scandal" has just been announced as a guest host in November, should that matter!)
Without an immediate solution in site, Thompson professed that instead of him playing black female characters, "We just haven't done them."
But for Thompson, the show must go on as he solidifies his place in the "SNL" cast and welcomes the newcomers.
"They're all contributing in different ways, I think," he said. "They've been doing a great job so far. They're all very, very smart and talented, so that's how it is. That's the kind of people I guess that get the job."
However, some viewers couldn’t disagree more with one tweeting, “I was on the L train today with 5 black women who are funnier than Kenan Thompson.”
Another wrote: “If you can’t name three funny black women working right now, you’re not looking hard enough.”
The issue of diversity seems to be cropping up a lot lately. Yesterday in a piece here, one study suggests that diversity causes anxiety among a certain percentage of Americans – and in another piece it was suggested that New Jersey schools need to be more diverse in the face of some schools being considered “apartheid schools.”
Is ethnicity and gender all that important in comedy; or should the goal of the show – any comedy show – be first and foremost funny?