Sasheer Zamata hard at work.


Photo by Sasheer Zamata hard at work.

What the Three ‘SNL’ Finalists Will Bring to the Show

Besides offering much-needed racial and gender parity, each black female comedian has her own brand of humor.

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It took a lot of public-shaming, but Lorne Michaels finally got around to holding “secret” auditions (the worst-kept secret in town) in early December to bring a black woman to the cast of Saturday Night Live. An insider told the Daily News that a second round of super-secret callbacks went down last night at 30 Rock and three Upright Citizens Brigade alums are still in the running (because Lorne can’t seem to scout talent elsewhere). One is Natasha Rothwell, the NBC Universal Diversity Scholarship winner who performs Saturday night with the Curfew at UCB and at People’s Improv Theater in New York. Her slow and steady style emphasizes characters, like her very anxious flight attendant. She also won a PIT finalist showcase for a sketch in which she plays Dr. Laura as a QVC spokesperson selling knickers (“there are some knickers you just can’t trust”). Next up is Sasheer Zamata, a master impersonator who co-writes and stars in the web series The Pursuit of Sexiness. She’s a hysterical storyteller— just watch her turn an experience with a flasher into the perfect date and then perform a standup routine as the flasher. Finally we have Kerry Coddett, a YouTube personality who might be the most controversial choice since she publicly criticized the absence of black female SNL cast members in The Atlantic and The HuffingtonPost: SNL “just doesn’t know what to do with a black woman,” she wrote. Coddett has loud and in-your-face characters like Moronika, and she almost always confronts race with sketches like “Blackertone—A Superior Suntan Lotion.” 

Even with things looking up for black comedians, the SNL auditions still ruffled a few feathers: Comedian Tiffany Haddish who tried out for the spot in early December at The Groundlings in L.A. told TMZ that the audition was “total BS” because Michaels wasn’t even there. “They already know who they want … they’re just wasting all these black women’s time and gas money,” she says. I’m not sure who they want, but if I have to pick one, Zamata gets my vote. All three finalists are good, but her sketches say exactly what I’m thinking just way funnier and without shame. I’m eager to hear just about anything she has to comment on. Plus, with a very limited number of black cast members, they’re going to need an expert impressionist. Whoever joins the show sure has a lot of airtime to make up for. 

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