NPR : Tell Me More

Comediennes Of Color: 'I Am Funny'

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This past weekend's Saturday Night Live was the most-watched episode of the season, but viewers may have been looking for something other than laughs. Saturday's show followed weeks of criticism over SNL's painfully obvious lack of diversity.

Six new cast members joined the sketch comedy show this season, all of them white. In fact, in nearly four decades on the air, there have been only four black women in the SNL cast. (NPR's Eric Deggans wrote about this for Code Switch issue last week.)

The show's writers poked fun at that controversy in Saturday's opening sketch with host Kerry Washington, star of ABC's hit series Scandal, playing Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Beyoncé in just the first few minutes.

Two comediennes of color, Anjelah Johnson, and Debra Wilson, both formerly of Fox's sketch comedy series MADtv, spoke with Tell Me More's host, Michel Martin about the discussion on the lack of diversity at Saturday Night Live. They challenged SNL producers to "get creative" in finding new and diverse cast members.


Interview Highlights

Debra Wilson on the new — all-white — cast

The reason it didn't bother me ... is because Saturday Night Live, and the producers of Saturday Night Live, can do exactly what they want to do ... SNL's stance was, that women of color, that they were looking at, were not [ready]. I think it should raise the vibrations of each person who says, 'Look, I am funny.'

Anjelah Johnson on what matters

What matters to me is the caliber of the show ... But I think, maybe it's time to get creative and think of new ways to find her and make it priority to find her, because you're kind of missing out on a very important voice ... I think we need to find the quality Latina and black woman and put them on there, so let's get creative and look for her in different ways.

Debra Wilson on learning from controversy

Controversy can be a good thing, it can work in such a positive way ... They've had a legacy of funny, they have had a legacy of being an iconic show, and now it's time to possibly move beyond the legacy of not having women of color on the show.

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