Sasheer Zamata’s comedy career has been anything but typical.
The funny-woman left Saturday Night Live without much fanfare just two years ago. For plenty of comics, the long-running sketch-comedy series is the pinnacle of their career, the job everyone wants, but it Zamata seems to have found success and a certain amount of creative freedom away from the show.
She’s spent the last year touring extensively, honing her stand-up routines with specials like Pizza Mind while guesting on shows like Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, hosting a live variety show, serving as ACLU’s Celebrity Ambassador for Women’s Rights, and creating her own podcast (due sometime this year).
She’s also taking her talents to the big screen, starring in Stella Meghie’s The Weekend, which played at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The film sees Zamata play a stand-up comic named Zadie who goes on a weekend trip with her ex-boyfriend (Tone Bell) and his new girlfriend (DeWanda Wise). It’s a sarcastic, quietly-brilliant exercise in awkwardness that touches on relationships and how to rebuild yourself when they sour.
UPROXX spoke with Zamata about evolving — not reviving — the rom-com, why she might regret finding her filter, and if she’s tired of being asked to comment on controversy in the comedy world.
People like to say there’s a rom-com revival happening. I don’t know if rom-coms really ever went away, but I do think they’ve evolved a bit. Where does The Weekend fit into that?
I agree. We used to have really good rom-coms that portrayed women in a very human light, where they were strong or determined or had good jobs or whatever, but then we went to this weird phase where people were falling down a lot or literally running into a man or waiting for a man to save them or they’re a maid. And those were still entertaining, but I don’t know what happened where we just went through this phase of these women, they aren’t in control of their own destiny. What I like about The Weekend is Zadie, even though a lot of her decisions may not be positive, they’re at least her decisions. And she is making active choices throughout the whole movie, and then we get to see how the other characters react to those active choices.
Also, we don’t really see a character that’s so sarcastic or negative or carefree I guess, someone who doesn’t care about what other people think. A lot of roles that are written for women are women trying to impress somebody or change so they can make someone fall in love with them or get someone’s approval, and Zadie’s kind of like, “Yeah, this is it, here it is, and if you like it great. If not, I don’t have room.”
Speaking of Zadie, she makes the bizarre decision to spend the weekend with her ex and his new girlfriend. Why in the hell would someone do that?
I mean it seems wild, but also, I have totally seen it happen in real life, where you’re like, ‘Why are you making these decisions?’ Or your logic goes out the window when you’re in love, or you’re heartbroken, or you’re feeling these strong emotions.