Kenan Thompson has ignited quite the controversy by saying there are no black female comedians ready to make the jump to Saturday Night Live.
In a recent interview Thompson said he would like to see more diversity among the SNL cast, but that so far no black female comedians have risen to a level that would warrant being picked for the show.
“It’s just a tough part of the business… Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
But many have disagreed, pointing out the number of female comedians who are SNL-worthy. Ebony writer Michael Arceneaux wrote that Kenan’s rationale only excuses SNL producers, who should be criticized for not hiring black women for the show.
Even fellow Saturday Night Live player Jay Pharoah disagreed. He said that Tyler Perry alum Damirra Brunson would make a great addition to the cast.
Pharoah said: “They need to pay attention… 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.”
But others agree with Kenan Thompson. Actress and comedian Aisha Tyler said it is a sad fact that black women are not very well represented in the world of sketch comedy.
“There is a long and proud tradition of black women in standup comedy specifically, dating back to and before Moms Mabley, so women of color have long had at least a few notable women to model themselves after in the standup world,” Tyler said. “Not so much so in sketch and improv.”
But Tyler said there are plenty of good options — if only SNL producers would look hard enough.
“Maybe they [SNL] could be doing a better job of recruiting women of color, which might feed the system in a more robust way,” she said. “But honestly, if SNL isn’t finding funny women of color, they’re just not looking hard enough. It smacks of laziness.”
In the meantime, Saturday Night Live fans can expect to see even less depictions of black female celebrities. Kenan Thompson said he no longer wants to dress in drag to play stars like Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Angelou.