It’s Black History Month, and America has been celebrating in the weirdest way possible: Everyone’s outing their older selves as horrible racists. If it wasn’t Liam Neeson relating that time 35 years ago when he spent a week wanting to murder black people, it was the continued unearthing of blackface pics. Many of those have been coming from those in Virginia’s state government. Of course, this news wasn’t bigger than the subject tackled in SNL’s cold open this week: Jeff Bezos’ penis.
The second sketch of the night found Keenan Thompson as an HR manager charged with wrangling together the state’s white staff, asking them, directly, “HAS ANYBODY ELSE WORN BLACKFACE IN COLLEGE?” Spoiler: They did. And they had a disturbingly high number of questions about it.
“Does it count if we did in the ’80s?” asked one. Before Thompson could respond, a colleague chimed in: “Of course not. It was funny and cool in the ’80s.”
Another asked, “What if you wore the blackface as a tribute to your hero?” Thompson asked, “Who was your hero?” “Al Jolson,” he replied, denoting the crooning star of The Jazz Singer and one of the more prominent blackface-happy white performers.
Long story short: They all, each and everyone of them, had a history with blackface. And they all had no idea blackface was bad. Even Halsey, the night’s host/musical guest, got in on the nightmare. She revealed that her costume was a before-and-after of Michael Jackson. And with that, Thompson does what he so often has to do on SNL: Throw up his hands and get the hell out of there.