Last weekend, Saturday Night Live cast member—and one of my childhood favorites—Kenan Thompson said he will no longer be portraying female characters on SNL. This obviously conjured the discussion of diversity, faster than one could conjure an ability to say politically correct things. When asked why SNL doesn’t have any women of color who could play those roles, Kenan replied, "Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready," implying that there just aren't that many black funny women out there... you know, like the tragically scarce endangered yeti. My least favorite example of bigotry this week is the belief that the reason comedy lacks diversity is because there’s a lack of talented women of color.
Blaming a lack of diversity on a lack of talent only further cements the public's perception that talented female comics of color don't exist, which reinforces the glass ceiling. It’s like saying, “there are no fairies in this house, because fairies don’t exist.” Well, duh, if you don’t believe. But I guess it saves you money on a fairy exterminator.
The portrayal of women by men in sketch comedy is getting to be a total drag. It's good that Kenan doesn't want to play women on the show anymore—having men play women usually involves the women making fun of themselves or making fun of the fact that they’re a woman. (Like in Monty Python or Little Britain.) Having a man play a woman usually relies on the premise, “wouldn’t it be funny if I was a woman?” Yeah, I guess, it would be, but only because you suck at it.
I don't believe that Kenan meant to be that offensive. I think he misspoke. He seems like a good dude. (He's Superdude!) But, the conversation shed light on a real attitude that a lot of people have regarding diversity in comedy.
Truthfully, I can think of a lot of funny women of color in the sketch, improv, and definitely the stand up world. There are a lot of hilarious women of color who will be featured at All Jane No Dick this week. That's been my least favorite example of bigotry this week, tune in next week to hunt down the missing half to this amulet.
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