Earlier this fall, controversy erupted from within Saturday Night Live (and the outside media community) after Jay Pharaoh criticized the show for failing to add a new black, female cast member over the summer after the exodus of several cast members and the addition of six new featured players, all white, only one a woman. Keenan Thompson brought even more attention to the matter (and was unfairly criticized for an out-of-context quote) after he suggested that no funny, black females had performed well in SNL auditions.
The entire thing exploded on the Internet, and the criticisms got so loud that SNL itself addressed/mocked them when Kerry Washington appeared on the show and played several black, female celebrities (to what I thought was hilarious effect). That, of course, just pissed off more people on the Internet who accused Lorne Michaels of not taking the matter seriously.
With criticism continuing, and with ratings taking a dip (four of the five lowest rated episodes of the last 5 years were all in 2013), Lorne Michaels — according to the sleuthing done over on Gothamist — apparently had a secret audition to correct the problem. He held a secret audition at the LA Groundlings for black, female cast members, announcing it to the candidates only two days prior. Among the women who auditioned were Bresha Webb, Tiffany Haddish, Simonne Shepherd, and Darmirra Brunson. That latter name might look familiar, because it’s the woman that Jay Pharoah singled out as one of the women Lorne Michaels had overlooked.
If Michaels pulls someone from this audition to be in the cast, will it silence the criticism? Of course not.This is the Internet, people. There’ll be 50 articles complaining that it’s too little, too late; another 50 saying that it’s about damn time; and yet another 50 complaining that Michaels unfairly excluded white comedians from the audition.
It’s a no-win situation, but this is probably the best way through it.
(Picture Source: Gabrielle Dennis)