SNL's Kenan Thompson Blames Lack of Diversity on Black Female Comics

Image: SNL's Kenan Thompson Blames Lack of Diversity on Black Female Comics

Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 07:40 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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"SNL" star Kenan Thompson says "Saturday Night Live" has a problem with diversity, and the fact that the show’s six new stars, all white, seems to support that argument.

In particular, the lack of a female black comedian has raised eyebrows for some time, and Thompson told TV Guide in an interview that he would no longer dress in drag to play those roles for skits.

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Thompson said that the lack of black female comedian is an industry problem.

“It’s just a tough part of the business. Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready," he said.

TV Guide writer Sadie Gennis challenged that idea, pointing out that blaming the show’s poor ethnic diversity (only three comedians are minorities, and only one, Iranian Nasim Pedrad, is female) on the lack of black female comedians “only perpetuates the problem.” There are many talented comedians who would fit that bill and be thrilled at the opportunity, she wrote.

TV Line pointed out that the show’s diversity issues don’t stop with cast members, either. Of 90 episodes, there were only four hosted by women who weren’t white.

“Insert sound of needle scratching across the record here. And if you’re wondering, the record in question is Janis Joplin’s 'Try (Just a Little Bit Harder),'” wrote TV Line’s Michael Slezak. “Because clearly, that’s what SNL needs to do when it comes to casting new and diverse talent. Lest we forget, the show brought in six new featured players for its recently launched 39th season — five white men and one white woman.”

Jay Pharaoh, the other African-American comedian on the show, also doesn't want to play black women in the show’s skits. Thompson told TV Guide that the show probably won’t take on skits that involve black women. Which is a sad choice considering the richness of opportunity for parodies and skits involving, oh, say, the president’s wife Michelle Obama, Oprah, Beyonce, and other pop culture figures. In the past, Thompson has played many of those roles.

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