Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels has admirably done his duty to progressive America and hired an unfunny black woman.
Michaels, who announced last month that he was going to hire a black female cast member and held segregated auditions, has signed “Upright Citizens Brigade” performer Sasheer Zamata.
Zamata’s hiring follows public criticism of the show’s lack of a black woman. In October a TV Guide reporter, incensed that only 18.75 percent of the show’s cast was of color, tracked down long-serving Not Ready for Prime Time Player Kenan Thompson, who added to the brouhaha by stating, “It’s just a tough part of the business. Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”
Michaels’ decision is even bolder for the fact that Sasheer Zamata is not a funny comedian, according to videos that she has created and posted to her website.
Zamata played the character “Black Fist” in an overlong and unfunny Upright Citizens Brigade sketch she wrote called “Black Superheroes,” and also wrote and starred in a sketch that predictably played on the tired joke that black people yell in the movie theater, the tiredness of which was already mocked by “Scrubs” in a 2004 episode.
Zamata’s apparent inability to be funny is just one of numerous obstacles that she has bravely overcome in her quest to fill a token quota on the vaunted Saturday Night Live cast. She is also a woman, meaning that she is physically and culturally averse to being funny according to a brilliant essay by the late Christopher Hitchens.
The hiring of another unfunny cast member for the unfunny TV institution provoked an outpouring of praise from unfunny people all around the world. “Way to go!” tweeted comedian Rob Cantrell, “#havefun!” The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon expressed a hope that Zamata’s hiring might calm the “rumblings of discontent” that have been coming from the “offended hordes” of “an aghast blogosphere.” Antidote to laughter Lena Dunham dubbed a Zamata video “crazy funny” back in December.
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 17, 2013
As a black woman on Saturday Night Live, Zamata follows in the footsteps of a universally beloved legend, so she will have to contend with another challenge: America will always think of her as “the next Ellen Cleghorne.”