Last year, Saturday Night Live was called out for its lack of diversity. After poking fun at itself for not having any Black female cast mates, Lorne Michaels’ crew embarked on a series of “secret” auditions to find a Black comedienne to add to its ranks.
Saturday night, Jones stepped in front of the camera for a controversial skit on SNL’s Weekend Update.
In the three-minute routine, Jones posed as an overly aggressive “image expert” brought on to discuss Lupita Nyong’o topping People magazine’s “Most Beautiful People” list. While I’m not sure how the clip could have played out, the predictable turn toward slavery (because Nyong’o’s most noticeable role to-date is from 12 Years A Slave) led to disastrous and downright offensive results.
During the sketch, Jones said though she loved that Lupita was honored by People magazine, she wished the glossy would compile a list of “the most useful people” instead of the most beautiful.
Jones explained her reasoning to her “delectable Caucasian” co-host, Colin Jost.
“Let me ask you a question: If you walked in a club and see me and Lupita standing at the bar, who would you pick? Yeah, I know, you’d pick Lupita,” she said. “But let me ask you this: If you was in the parking lot and three crips is bout to whoop yo’ ass, who you gon pick then?”
The skit goes downhill from there.
Jones continued: “The way we view Black beauty has changed. Look at me. I’m single right now. But back in the slave days, I would have never been single.”
Unfortunately, it got worse.
“I’m six-feet tall and I’m strong, Colin. STRONG!” Jones yelled. “I mean look at me, I’m a Mandingo!”
Although Jones assured her co-host she would not want to be enslaved today, the comedienne explained she’d have more romantic options during slavery because she would’ve been paired with other Mandingos.
“Massa woulda hooked me up with the best brother on the plantation,” Jones quipped, “and every nine months I’d be in the corner having a super baby.”
Jones concludes: “I’d be the number one slave draft pick. All of the plantations would want me!”
While there may be a way to make slavery humorous (although I have yet to see one), Jones and SNL completely missed the mark. Like Russell Simmons’ YouTube channel’s disgraceful “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape,” Jones’ skit not only made light of slavery, but also joked about the horrific rapes Black women endured during enslavement.
Though Jones claimed she’d never be single as a slave, she could also never legally marry; never decide how to raise, or even keep, her children; never refuse to be raped without incurring the ire of her master; never dictate her own future; and she could never control her body because she would have been seen as nothing more than a mule.
Between Jones’ disgusting skit, “28 Reasons to Hug A Black Guy,” and “Black Jeopardy,” I’m wondering when SNL and its writers will realize that Black comics can be funny without talking about race or capitulating to the stereotypes.