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The Trouble With Kenan Thompson’s Comments On ‘SNL’ Not Casting Women-Of-Color

The Trouble With Kenan Thompson's Comments On 'SNL' Not Casting Women-Of-Color

Saturday Night Live (SNL) “veteran” Kenan Thompson’s recent comments on the lack of women-of-color on that TV show are very troubling.

They’re troubling because it means that the man is truly out of touch with reality (or a very good actor), if he thinks he’s in any position to say someone else is not good enough to get work on SNL.

And I don’t mean to pile on Thompson, following Sergio’s report earlier today regarding the comments he made.  I just think it’s time for us to have a talk; a “come to Jesus meeting”; an intervention, or whatever one would call it.  Some things need to be said aloud because maybe Thompson is just unaware; unaware of just how unfunny he is.

Thompson’s decade-long run on SNL is really some kind of miracle.  He should be extremely grateful, and say 10 prayers of thanks every single day for lasting so long as an SNL cast member.  He’s a very lucky man.

Thompson is lucky because despite the fact that he hasn’t done anything remotely funny on SNL in 10 years, he’s still cashing their checks.

In reality, whenever most people hear the name Kenan Thompson, the very next thing that pops into their minds is, “Hey, whatever happened to Kel Mitchell?”

Thompson’s true claim to fame is his body of work for kid’s network Nickelodeon.  I’m talking All That, Kenan & Kel, and the Good Burger movie.

Yes, Kenan Thompson paired with Kel Mitchell was, at times, comedic genius.  Mitchell, however, was the bigger talent of the two child-stars, and few will argue that point.

The fact that Thompson has managed to maintain such a high-profile gig, while Mitchell has seemingly faded into obscurity, is all the evidence we need to prove that life is, indeed, unfair.

It’s also unfair that Thompson would blame women-of-color for their underrepresentation on the popular sketch-show’s set.

“It’s just a tough part of the business,” Thompson says. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”— Kenan Thompson, as told to TV Guide.

It’s funny that Thompson would mention women-of-color not being “ready” in auditions for SNL.  Just last month Thompson had this to say to Parade about his own audition:

On his original SNL audition.

“I had to do stand-up, and I had never done stand-up before. I had to do five minutes of the ‘I just flew into town and my arms are tired’ type stuff! I was more of a sketch performer, so I didn’t do any of that traditional stand-up stuff. I started with a phone call between Al Sharpton and Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about budgets in Harlem. And then I did some other characters, but I never got around to the telling jokes part.”

So, SNL wanted Thompson to tell jokes, but he couldn’t deliver; all he could do was the same lame impressions he’s now known for.  Sounds like he wasn’t “ready”. But he got the job anyway.  Lucky man.

Maybe those women who auditioned for SNL shouldn’t have even bothered to waste their time.  Thompson has increasingly made a habit of hogging female roles, that could be played by women-of-color, for himself.

Back in 2009, New York magazine did a piece on Thompson, calling his first seven lackluster years on SNL a “slow start”.

“Everybody has their moments, you know? I like that I’ve been here for as long as I have, because it’s given me time to be on the ground floor, and I’ve gradually gotten to the point where I’m hopefully getting a sketch a week—that’s everyone’s ambition,” he says.

After seven years on SNL, Thompson’s ambition was to hopefully get one sketch a week?

If that’s the way he sees things, it’s no surprise that Thompson isn’t pushing for the hiring of women-of-color on SNL.  What would be his purpose on the show if an actual woman-of-color played the female roles for which Thompson has become known?
All that would be left for him to do are bad impressions of Steve HarveyAl Sharpton and Charles Barkley.  And that annoying “What’s Up With That?” character. And I’m sure no one will miss those depictions, since they’re pretty much all the same character, just with different wigs.
So when it comes to Kenan Thompson’s opinion on why SNL hasn’t given many opportunities to women-of-color, don’t look for logic in his reasoning.  Don’t look for any semblance of fact in his comments.  Don’t even, for the sake of optimism, attempt to see humor in his words.  Because there’s nothing funny about Kenan Thompson.

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The last line says it all. I’ve been at a loss. I thought for sure he had some sort of secret pull in show business that nobody knows about. The guy is not funny…. Ever. Never have I laughed at him. Never not once.


Amen!! I am sorry to say I SAW Mr. Kenan "Too Ready For Prime Time Wig #312” Thompson’s WEAK-a** audition that got him the SNL gig…shame on him and smack me stupid! My jaw is STILL on the floor…(and I do not mean to be disrespectful, but — ), I HAD to wonder after seeing that no talent clown muffle-mouth his lost self in front of those obviously over-tired casting agents…there he was without a HOPE in God’s green earth to work up a recognizable OUNCE of effort or sliver-flap of chin-skin to be tell a joke? Oh…Hells no. He too “ready.” Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

To think it used to be my dream to write for SNL. And I’m just a dumb stupid unemployed woman. Guess I jist ain’t “ready.” Best go “git my wig on and “make’ with the “funny”whilst readin’ der cue cards duh whole time and laffin at myself!!!! “ Huh, Kenan? That’s why they pay YOU the big bucks!  Uh, yuck yuck!


I realize this is ancient but I had to comment. I couldn’t agree more! He has got to be the worst SNL comedian there ever has been on the show. I have never laughed once when he was on.

Joe Marino

Right on Emmanuel. Finally someone else realizes the emperor has no clothes. Kenan Thompson sucks and has no talent whatsoever, other than mugging to the camera.


this is the most insanely unprofessional thing i’ve ever read in my life. you should be ashamed lol


This guy gets cast in the unfunniest show currently on TV with a mostly white cast and now starts to think he’s a special black man for being chosen.


The problem with Kenan Thompson isn't that he's not funny. He just can't deliver. He needed way more time getting his timing together back at whatever comedy factory they pulled him from, and lets face it, Lorne and his crony writers have consistently written him in as the token black man AND woman. If they had paired him up with Andy Samberg he might have had a fighting chance. But instead they are writing white comedy for a token black guy. And if you also think that Michaels isn't a racist, you have never listened to Chris Rock talk about his SNL years. You've never heard Eddie Murphy talk about his SNL years. Michaels is the spokesman for white supremacy. This is also why the Wayans developed In Living Color, and Quincy Jones produced MADtv. To actually get African American comedians on the air. SNL is a white mans world, and say what you want about Maya Rudolph, she was just cream enough to Michaels and NBC Universal. Fine, lets also play devils advocate and say Michaels wasn't a bigot, just an egotist. NBC's got a habit of being a white boys club to begin with. We are so past the age of lets laugh at the fat black woman or man, that the joke has gotten stale. And just for good measure, because this bigot street goes both ways, I'm also looking at you Tyler 'I need to make another Madea movie to fund my other movies' Perry.

Thompson isn't wrong. It's just that he didn't go FAR enough. More than likely he wants out of his contract, and I agree. He might not make as much money, but he's not funny because he's not written that way in the bullpens. Every comedian that has come out of there agrees that it's a meat grinder where your ideas go to be destroyed, and you're at the mercy of Lorne Michaels. And he's dead right about there not being enough women of color cast. You cannot tell me that there aren't enough black female comedians. There are hundreds.

Lyndsay Rini

This article is very obnoxiously written. Don't talk about actors and their take on the audition process until you've gone through it yourself. He's correct. A lot of it is out of your control, and there may not be a rhyme or reason; it just works out the way it works out.


Kenan is not funny at all. I am not sure how he made it. His skits are more stupid than anything. I have never liked him…. Did not even know he was still trying to act..LOL


I like Kenan, and I think he's funny. Maybe you don't, But i'm sure lots of others do. I dislike when people say something and expect everyone else to agree.


The thing I hate about this article is that attack Thompson for not being funny (Half of the cast isnt funny), which might be true but it doesnt discredit his original point. The four African-American women in its entire 39-year history: Yvonne Hudson (1980-81), Danitra Vance (1985-86), Ellen Cleghorne (1991-95) and Rudolph (2000-2007), (with the exception of Rudolph with her fair skin and the changing of the time) were usually giving the most stereotypical roles i.e Queen Shaniqua. I dont think it just an SNL problem but a media problem as a whole. Although black actors and actresses have come to be recognized significantly more recently; I mean it's took until 2001 for a black person to win a Best Actor Oscar when most would agree that it was deserved decades earlier. But to my original point I just dont think SNL knows how to properly use or scout black comedians unless the said comedian is of superstar potential.


The only way Kenan will leave SNL by his own volition is if someone leaves a trail of Good Burgers out of 30 Rock.


Here's a parallel question. How many black actresses/actors have hosted the show? I haven't watched in ages but I think Rihanna was on 3 yrs ago. Since then? Kerry? Nicole Beharie? A well trained actress knows how to do sketch comedy she doesn't have to be a yuck, yuck stand-up. In all these years SNL never thought to grow their own. I mean that's what they've done with Keenan. He didn't grow very well but they've given him a chance to improve. If he didn't cross-dress he'd never get a part. His time is up and we need to press on them to try harder – like Mitt Romney they need to get some folders of black women. In fact it would make a great reality show- as sisters prepare to audition for SNL.

Anthony Rayner

If he has lasted so long on the show without being funny then why is he still there? Could it be that the creators and cast don't want to have a talented African American comedy actor on the show that might become the center of attention?


Whether he's funny or not there still are no women of color on SNL.


Which Black females do we wanna see on SNL? Amanda Diva auditioned. She overacts like hell and is notoriously bratty on set. That probably cost her the job. Maybe Chescaleigh should try out.


I concur! Kenan Thompson is not funny (never has been). Apparently, he's just in the "right place at the right time" …….if you are a man who's willing to play the buffoon as he has for so long.


The truth is Kenan could not answer the question honestly because he would lose his job. The real answer to the question posed is because he plays all the women parts in drag so they don't need women of color for the roles. Similar to the model industry. Instead of hiring black models, they instead put white models in black face. There is no need to hire a black woman comedian when Keenan serves that role. And that is just the truth of the matter. So instead of him being honest, he throws his black women comedian counterparts under the bus because that is easier than admitting he is the black male and black female comedian…. two for the price of one.


Why did you write this article? Also, why the hell did I just read it? You don't like Thompson or his opinion, I get it, but who are you that we should care about your opinion? If SNL doesn't want to put black women in their sketches right now than that's on them. They shouldn't have to put someone on there just because of their race or sex. I agree Thompson isn't great, but you don't have to watch the show if you don't want to.

Bob G

Yeahhh…….someone's got an irrational dislike for Kenan. The guy has delivered over and over, and is often the funniest person on various episodes. Reading this article makes me feel like never clicking on your link again, as subjectivity is wayyy out the door.

Simple TRUTH

weeell… he's on there. no matter how unfunny or stupid you think he is… simple as that.

Tell It Like It Is

While I agree that there needs to be more diversity on SNL, I must say that Kenan is a hell a lot more funny than Tracy Morgan. Now, Tracy Morgan, is someone to question how he lasted so long, if you want to go there.


This country would be a better place if we drop the black and white issues.
It's really getting tired. If you don't what he brings to the table you don't have to watch it. Hey why not petition to bring In Loving Color back. I would love that!!!! I'm not a fan of SNL, although I've watched many episodes with Eddie Murphy and Tracy Morgan. It take a special person period to do sketch comedy. I've seen so many funny women of color on you-tube. Maybe just maybe women of color have no interest in auditioning for this show. Just a thought. I don't know a lot of women of color that watch this show. I feel this show is dated and should be taken out back and shot. lol #sorry. This show doesn't have the same impact as it had it in the pass when I was growing up.

Yalanda Lattimore, DryerBuzz

@officialkenan and @nbcsnl GTFOHWTBS #mediaapartheid #HairSheBuzz #NuffSaid ain't nobody got ish to prove!!!!

#Blackwomen entertained this BS of a country and others for centuries. It's 20mofo13! if you don't want to make billions #somofobeit!

American media not about to convince me to prove nada. I don't break ceilings already BROKEN nor knock on doors already OPEN #GTFOHWTBS


Did we miss the part of the original article where Kenan said he didn't want to play any more women in drag on the show?

I'd love for one of these angry, raving black-media-site articles about Kenan Thompson's comments to spend as much vitriol on Lorne Michaels and whoever else has actual casting and producing power over at NBC.


Whew! WhatEVA brown or black sista that ever lands [back] on SNL is gonna SHO NUFF be under some pressha!!!!


I'm confused. I was uner the assumption that this blog was create to celebrate black actors? This blog often complains that black actors aren't cast in mainstream stuff. You have one in the biggest comedy show, arguably in the world and you're dissing him? I'm confused

Nichole Carter

I stopped reading this article after the "life is unfair" comment. Kenan Thompson is there because he worked his way there. Don't demean this young man's accomplishments because Kel Mitchell didn't do what Kel Mitchell needed to do. If Kel Mitchell isn't the bigger success, then guess whose fault it is?

I'm so sick of African Americans whining about this, that and the third. Hard work pays off, not token endorsements or "approvals" from the Black community.


So you are essentially bashing him for stating an opinion. Lets look at "In Living Color" as an example. That show launched a ton of careers, but I'd say the only woman (aside from the Fly Girls) to go on to do much after was Kim Coles with Living Single, and thats faint praise at best. They had her, the white woman, and Kim Wayans (and lets be real, she was on there because of her last name, not because of immense talent). So if the sketch comedy show that had the biggest black cast ever couldn't find many women of color who were ready for sketch comedy, and you know they tried, I don't think the viable pool is nearly as big as people are thinking. Now I'm not saying there aren't plenty of funny black women comics, but SNL isn't stand up. While Eddie Murphy and a couple others are good at both, I don't necessarily know that the overlap is the same. I think Tina Fey is hilarious. Would I want to see her do stand up? Probably not. But you bashing Keenan is no better than him saying that he didn't think the black women who auditioned were ready.


While I will not dispute that Kenan's comments are a bit worrisome, I have to admit that it seems like the author has very little working knowledge of what a show like SNL entails. Regardless of race and sex, SNL looks for individuals they feel are "ready" (as Kenan put it) to deal with the stresses of a weekly, well known, high-output sketch–them's some big boots to fill. They look for writers. While Kenan may not be that funny on the show, you have no idea what he's actually contributing behind the scenes. To America he may be a minor, useless bit character, but to the SNL higher-ups, he could be fundamental to the composition of some of these sketches.

And, as a side note, 1 sketch a week on a show like SNL might not seem like much, but I'm sure that's more than most of their team of writers gets.

Now, I'm not saying that the (growing) disparity in the industry needs to change: it does. Women and minorities are woefully under, and mis-, represented in Film and TV. I just think attacking 1 black actor for trying to speak candidly about his personal observations isn't the best way to go about it.

Cheers, and thanks for the editorial.


I just think he was saying things to not rock the boat and keep his checks coming in because if there was a black female to join then the black female characters would go to them unless they are adamment about putting a black man in a dress.


His sketches and that entire SNL program just plain sucks. And I'm surprised that him and that effen show is still on the air. The show is not funny at all.


Unnecessary article. I mean really? This is not that serious. Why is this article just digging at him. Congratulations to him funny or not.


I agree with the article in regards to the comments made my by Kenan Thompson. I feel as though when African American's get to a certain point of success, they talk and act as if they are no longer a part of the demographic, that could quite possibly be the reason they made it where they are now. Once in a while shows and films throw in the "token", to basically keep the ethnics subdued by saying "hey here's one, we're all about diversity, see…". I truly think this is the case for Kenan. Now i didn't come here to dog that man out exactly, but i feel that ethnics, particularly African Americans, are too hard on their own when they reach a certain pedestal of success ( Bill Cosby ). Some might say that Kennan is moving backwards by dressing up as women, but i digress. The fact is that TV/Films need more ethnic faces in order to accurately persuade this country's inhabitants that we are who we say we are.

David Bloom


While i dont agree w/ kenan's statements about women of color not being "ready" for the SNL bigtime, i dont know how you can say Kel's exact same tenure on All That and Kenan and Kel plus Mystery Men as being absolutely funnier than Kenan.

Clearly Kenan has some staying power within SNL, whether or not thats b/c he plays into Lorne's racist/sexist(?) profiling of cast members is unknown. Granted Kenan has never really found a recurring/popular character to really hang his hat on, hes been funny enough to stay bit player and happily filled in for Black roles. I think Kenan is a capable sketch performer and through luck/skill/ethnicity/ and the strong performances of those around him, he has found staying power.

Why people take his remarks as the gospel truth of the auditioning process and producers wants and the show's needs is beyond me. Certainly there are funny non-white-women out there (jessica williams on the daily show cracks me up) but cmon people lets not get too worked up about this.


Watch Kenan Thompson's apology here:


This is Gospel! I see some of Kenan's family came on here to comment. Give it up, you all know that fat boy ain't funny.


I understand the whole "he's-not-reeeally-funny" thing but I don't think we have to take his comments so seriously. I don't think he's exactly casting anyone, anyway. Congrats to him, though. The producers, on the other hand, should have something to say. [Also Kel Mitchell isn't totally MIA..he hosted a cypher at Rock The Bells this year, he's been up to some stuff :)]


A black woman was on the SNL cast for seven years, but most of America doesn't know it. People assumed she was white. Maya Rudolph is the daughter of the famous African-American singer Minnie Riperton best known for singing "Loving You" with her amazing 5-octive voice. Maya's dad was a Jewish producer. I guess even Keenan didn't even know that he was working with a black woman to make his strange comments on black woman not being ready for SNL auditions. It would have been the perfect opportunity for him to give Maya her props and show SNL has had black female representation over an extended period of time. This kind of reminds me of how most people don't know Linda Carter of the "Wonder Woman" TV show is Latino. They too made the assumption she is white. As much intermixing is going on, a generation from now it will be much harder to tell what race some people are.

Here are some links for more info on Maya and her mom:

Miles Ellison

Judging from the quality of SNL over the years, they auditioned a lot of people who "weren't ready."


He's just saying what Lorne coached him to say. As for his talent, I think he's adequate. Sometimes funny. Predictable. I give him kudos for surviving so long. The skits are not very funny overall, and the performers are all reading from prompters and cue cards. It looks so stupid when they're supposed to be having a back-and-forth conversation but they're all looking straight ahead into the camera — reading cue cards. Lame show. Lame guests. Waste of time. Just right for Keenan Thompson.


Man to whoever wrote the article just shut the hell up…if the dude wasn't funny to somoene he wouldn't have a job simple. As far as his comments someone asked his opinion and he gave it…what a asshole how dare he answer a question


Why are we worried about what Kenan Thompson says, he's a comedian with an opinion, not Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama. I personally disagree with his comment, but then i've never been in the business, and don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Leave the man alone, and focus on placing pressure on the producers, they have the first and final say anyway, not Kenan.


I know his Mitt Romney & Bain Capital skit was funny as hell.


Sounds like he said that they aren't doing a good job of recruiting women of color to me…Is it that impossible to believe of the women of color (which I assume we are talking darker complected Black women as the show has had mixed and Indian women)….that the women they auditioned just didn't have it? What women out there of color do anyone upset suggest they hire? You have to be funny and different…I'm sure they would have loved to do a better Michelle Obama at some point, but who would do it? I'd like to get more info on who auditions before jumping the gun on what feels a lot like nothing. Seth Myers and Tina Fey don't strike me as having prejudice toward women of color, but give info on who was denied that was deserving of an audition or a spot after an audition?

Oh and who cares what Kenan has to say…he ha two good sketches a year…maybe

Not worth a name

Thompson made some stupid comments and I hope his comments aren't reflective of SNL brass feelings on woman (although I guess their hiring practices are reflective enough though). But I like how y'all said in the beginning y'all weren't going to shit on Thompson….. then preceded to shit all over his career.

I found that funny.


Wow. Disagree big time. I think Kenan is one of the consistently most funny people on the show. If you think otherwise, you're just biased.


I'm pretty sure he was just relaying facts that SNL of what he's seen from auditions and assuming it's because of the points he mentioned. He and Jay would probably love to have a funny, intelligent black woman to play off of. And I'm sure he already takes a lot of flack for wearing a dress. Clearly his experience in All That and Kenan and Kel more than compensated for his lack of stand up. It's not like they're giving weekend update to a black man. You chose to attack Kenan rather than the producers, writers, and casting directors which have much more influence on the situation and Kenan's career. And say he's lying or ignoring the truth, what would happen if he did come out and say SNL discriminates against black women? I haven't seen a Kenan movie since Good Burger. You really think a comedic actor who can't write or do stand up has jobs lining up after SNL? He didn't say black women aren't funny. It was simply an observation. If you have a problem with what he said provide evidence of discrimination in SNL casting not evidence Kenan being unfunny.


this is a stupid article. The dude paid his dues. He's allowed to have an opinion.

Ghost In The Machine


Lorne likes to sample the talent. You play – you get to stay!


Does he have email? Do the producers? Because someone needs to send both of them a link to this.


kenan shutup. if no 1 has told you you are on SNL not bc you are god but bc lorne wants to be able to reference you when he is called out for SNL being all milky.

Monique a Williams

Hilarious and right on!


Can somebody write an article about the "readiness" for an SNL audition? Like how many Black women are in sketch troupes/circuit? Who has auditioned and lived to tell their experience? Do Black comediennes even look to SNL as a viable option? I'm interested in that rather than sh*tting on Kenan. Critiques can, and do, go both ways…



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