Every comedian worth their weight in cheap motels has a “Saturday Night Live” rejection story, it’s only after their careers take off that anyone cares to hear them. In an interview with Vanity Fair, “Master of None” star Noël Wells had some choice words for the comedy giant, whom she calls “Comedy dinosaurs.”
“’S.N.L.’ is the comedy establishment,” said Wells, promoting her directorial debut which she also wrote and stars in, “Mr. Roosevelt” at SXSW.
“Of course you want to go through that, because you want that stamp of approval. But it has its own identity, and our voices didn’t mesh for whatever reason—or they decided we didn’t belong. I think a lot of us would have liked to keep trying and have our own voices shine through. For whatever reason, we got rejected. But that’s O.K.! It’s actually more rock ’n’ roll. The quicker you find out that you’re not going to go through the Establishment, the quicker you can decide to make your own version of how you want your craft to be.”
So far, doing her own thing is going pretty well for Wells. After breaking out as Aziz Ansari’s bubbly girlfriend in the Netflix hit “Master of None,” she decided to write a role for herself that played against that type. The result is “Mr. Roosevelt,” a comedy about a struggling comedian who returns home to Texas, which received warm reviews out of the film festival.
“We’re much stronger doing our own things. Don’t we want to make rock ’n’ roll? Why are we all trying to be accepted by all these comedy dinosaurs? ‘S.N.L.’ has become what it was always trying to make fun of. It’s become this big machine. I don’t want to be plugged into a machine,” she said.
Wells is part of an elite group of comedians (all women) who were cut prematurely from the late-night sketch show only to thrive on their own. Among them are: Jenny Slate, Michaela Watkins, and Sarah Silverman. Good company, indeed.