When Tina Fey pulled up her chair at the Saturday Night Live writers’ table, the show wasn’t all that woman-friendly. In her autobiographical book Bossypants, the comedien tells a story of how writers often assumed men in drag could be more funny than women. By the time she left, the show had featured more female greats than ever before: Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolf, Kristen Wiig, and others graced us with their unbeatable wit.
But wait a second! As Salon’s Carolyn Edgar points out, Keenan Thompson and Tracy Morgan are famed for their drag performances. They play all the black women, leaving no roles for black comediennes. The women the men impersonate aren’t portrayed in a favorable light: “While Maya Rudolph did impersonations of glamorous black celebrities like Whitney Houston and [...] Beyoncé, Thompson has portrayed a host of recurring black female characters [...] all hewing to the overweight, loud-mouthed, sassy Sapphire stereotype,” Edgar writes.
There have only been four African-American women on the show to date.The audition process the show uses isn't conducive to bringing in new talent, either: comedians send in videos and wait to be invited to a casting. The show should, as Edgar suggests, take a more active approach to finding women of color to star on SNL. Let’s get some diversity on this cultural phenomenon!
Thanks to Salon
Image via Pittsburg Post-Gazette