Saturday night all eyes were on NBC as Nicki Minaj made her debut on the iconic sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. Not only did Harajuku Barbie perform her hits “Right Thru Me” and “Moment 4 Life,” she showed off her acting skills as well, joining the ensemble cast for two skits.
And so far, the reviews are mixed.
Although the Trini bombshell is best known for her microphone skills and offbeat fashion sense, she’s also a budding thespian. Few people know that Minaj—born Onika Maraj—attended the legendary LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts (which inspired the film “Fame”), where she majored in drama, her first love.
Saturday, Nicki got to play with the big boys. She joined SNL vet Keenan Thompson and Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg in the skit, “Bride of Blackenstein,” which spoofed ‘70s era Blaxploitation films.
During the skit, Minaj played the fast-talking, sassy, booty popping Bride of Blackenstein and stole the show. As soon as she emerged from the Blackenstein’s casket, all eyes were on Nicki…and her ample ass.
While many found her performance hilarious (peep the audience cackling), others cringed at the seemingly stereotypical rendering of Nicki’s character and Jesse Eisenberg’s line that Minaj’s mouth came from “a ho who doesn’t know her place.”
As a fan of 1970s Blaxploitation films, I found Nicki’s portrayal in line with the over-the-top nature of those films. One look at “Coffy,” Willie Dynamite” or “Cleopatra Jones” will give you a glimpse at what she was aiming for, still some found that her portrayal relied too heavily on old stereotypes about black women.
Although I didn’t find myself laughing hysterically (or at all) at the skit, I wasn’t offended either. Whenever something like this happens, I often wonder if people are only upset because the show’s writers are white. I wonder, would viewers still feel as offended (or uncomfortable) if, say, this skit was on “In Living Color” instead of SNL?
In the end, comedy is often used to push the envelope and often pokes fun at controversial issues such as race and gender—which if done right, can get us all to share a laugh and perhaps come together as individuals. Although SNL tried hard, I’m not sure they struck the right notes.