Sasheer Zamata knows most people will recognize her from Saturday Night Live. The long-running show hired her in 2014, then promoted her to repertory player in 2015. But there’s more to Zamata than SNL, as her new Seeso stand-up special Pizza Mind proves repeatedly: She’s a fiercely funny and intelligent comedian everyone should be watching.
What makes Zamata all the more funnier is her honesty, a trait she likely gets from her mother, whom she describes as “unabashedly blunt.” Whether she’s acknowledging the recognition SNL grants (and the intense rigor such a job requires), or some audiences members’ inability to differentiate her from one-time SNL host Kerry Washington, Zamata never cushions her jokes. Even when, as happens in Pizza Mind on occasion, she decides to amplify her stand-up with animations, sketch reenactment, or musical numbers.
Your mother’s steering wheel story reminded me of the time I played Cards Against Humanity with my parents. There were tears.
That’s really funny. Yes, when that happens — when you get to an age when you’re like, “Oh wait a minute, now my parents are just freely telling me information that I just did not want to know.” It’s the best and the worst.
Pizza Mind animates or sketches certain parts of your routine, a la Shorties Watchin’ Shorties or Comedy Central Re-Animated. So when you started telling the steering wheel story, my first thought was: “She’s about to do that here.”
I feel like my mom would be so pissed if we did, but maybe she wouldn’t. She surprises me sometimes. She asked me what jokes I was going to do, and I’ve been including my mom in a lot of my onstage stories. Ever since I started doing stand-up, I think. She’s just so entertaining, and I can’t help but talk about her. She was like, “Which jokes are you going to tell about me?” So I told her the dragon one and the bit about her acting. After a while I felt confident enough to tell her about the steering wheel story. She immediately said, “Oh good! I like that one.” I was like, “What?”
She just likes it.
I’m always curious about what the family thinks about a comedian’s routines about them. I guess you’ve already answered that question.
She’s just unabashedly blunt. I mean, I admire how much she gives zero fucks. She’s always been like that. I can hear her now in my head: “Yeah, I said it. Tell everyone I said it. I don’t care.”
Most people know you from SNL, but you’ve been a working stand-up for almost a decade. This is your first special, correct?
It is. This is my first one.