Michael Che’s doing the rounds to promote HBO Max’s That Damn Michael Che, and he popped over to visit with Howard Stern, who (almost) always manages to rustle up some controversy out of his guests. The wide-ranging interview dove into Che’s thoughts about why he won’t date celebrities, but one of the more interesting nuggets that emerged (via Mediaite) involved a once-rejected sketch idea that Che swung by the SNL writers.
The sketch was deemed to go too far, apparently, given that it bounced off prevalent instances of police brutality to depict a group of superheroes who inadvertently kill a black teen who is unarmed. Che also mentioned that this type of “racially specific” joke is more likely to fly on his HBO Max show, but here’s what happened at SNL:
“For obvious reasons, there’s no way that’s going on [‘SNL’],” Che told Howard. “Something that’s like racially specific, the audience is kind of looking at ‘Saturday Night Live’ as Lorne Michaels’ show. They’re not looking at it as black writers making a nuanced observation… On my show, I can get away with it because they know it’s me.”
Che also added that, when he first arrived at SNL (as a full-time writer in 2013), there weren’t any Black writers on the show, so “If I were to write — or if a Black writer were to write — something that’s specific to Black humor, an all-white staff might not get the joke, so it’s deemed not funny, so it doesn’t go on the air.” However, he says that the writing room’s more diverse these days, and he believes that SNL is better and funnier as a result. Meanwhile, Che is definitely tackling policing and related issues on That Damn Michael Che, and he’s doing so with the help of current and former SNL stars including Cecily Strong, Heidi Gardner, Ellen Cleghorne, Colin Jost, and Colin Quinn.