Tag: Michael Che

FEATURE: After 25 Years on the Road, Leslie Jones Becomes a Comedy Star

“This is gonna be kind of a hot one,” Ali LeRoi said.

“I’ve been waiting to sit her ass down for a minute,” Owen Smith said. “One of the funniest women in the game.”

“Funniest comedian in the game,” Jones interrupted. “Not just woman. I hate that shit.” End of introduction.

Comedians are combatants: they “kill,” they “bomb,” they “destroy.” Such bluster can mask insecurity, and Jones had good reason to feel defensive. She was forty-six, and had been a standup comedian for more than a quarter century; her peers respected her, but that respect rarely translated into high-paying gigs. “I remember some nights where I was, like, ‘All right, this comedy shit just ain’t working out,’ ” she told me recently. “And not just when I was twenty-five. Like, when I was forty-five.” She was a woman in a field dominated by men, and an African-American in an industry that remained disturbingly segregated.

Although she had opened for Katt Williams and Dave Chappelle, acted in movies alongside Ice Cube and Martin Lawrence, recorded a standup special for Showtime, and made several appearances on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam” and BET’s “ComicView,” she worried that the gatekeepers of mainstream comedy—bookers for the “Tonight Show,” casting directors of big-budget films—had never heard her name. “Every black comedian in the country knew what I could do,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean everyone else is paying attention.” Chris Rock, who met Jones when they were both road comics in the late eighties, told me, “Black women have the hardest gig in show business. You hear Jennifer Lawrence complaining about getting paid less because she’s a woman—if she was black, she’d really have something to complain about.”

Jones spent much of her career performing in what she calls “shitty chitlin-circuit-ass rooms, where you’re just hoping the promoter pays you.” She told me that, around 2010, “I stopped only doing black clubs. I stopped doing what I call ‘nigger nights’—the Chocolate Sundays, the Mo’ Better Mondays. I knew how to relate to that audience, and I was winning where I was, but I wasn’t moving forward.” She lived in Los Angeles at the time, and she began asking for spots at the Comedy Store, where David Letterman and Robin Williams got their starts. A comedian named Erik Marino, who befriended her there, said, “She felt very strongly that she was being pigeonholed as a black comic—a BET comic.”

For a while, Jones performed at the Store at odd hours. Then, she said, “I went to the booker and I threw the race card at him. ‘Why you won’t let me go up at ten on a Friday? ’Cause I’m black?’ ” The booker gave her a prime-time slot. “She destroyed, obviously,” Marino said. “Bookers are the ones who care about black rooms versus white rooms. To us comedians, it’s, like, if you know what you’re doing and you can connect with an audience, they’re gonna laugh.”

Rock saw Jones perform at the Store in 2012. After her set, he told her, “You were always funny, but you’re at a new level now.”

“You’re right,” she responded. “But I’m not gonna really make it unless someone like you puts me on.” Rock took out his iPhone and added her name to a list labelled “Funny people.”

Continue reading “FEATURE: After 25 Years on the Road, Leslie Jones Becomes a Comedy Star”

Check Out Trailer for Chris Rock’s Upcoming Release, “Top Five” (VIDEO)

Chris RockAs GBN reported last month, Chris Rock’s new film Top Five sparked a bidding frenzy at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Paramount Pictures emerging as the winner for distribution rights to the tune of $12.5 million. Last week, the studio dropped the first trailer.  Written, directed by, and starring Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind.

Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah also star.

The movie is set for a limited release on December 5, going wide a week later on December 12.

If you can’t wait to see Rock in action before then, check out him and musical guest Prince as he hosts “Saturday Night Live” this weekend.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

“Saturday Night Live” Writer Leslie Jones Becomes Show’s Latest Cast Member

'Saturday Night Live' Adds New Cast

According to Variety.com, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has added Leslie Jones, a member of its writing staff, to the cast.  She’ll begin in this role as regular performer starting with this week’s Jim Carrey-hosted episode.

The comedian was a contender in the search for a new cast member of color last fall. The spot went to Sasheer Zamata, but producers decided to bring Jones on as a writer.  Jones is the latest “SNL” cast member to be plucked from the writing staff.  Michael Che, the new Weekend Update co-anchor, was also upped from his spot as a writer earlier this season.

Jones has appeared several times on SNL’s Weekend Update segment, including one in the 40th season premiere, proving her onscreen chops. She also starred in her own comedy special, “Problem Child,” for Showtime.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

Michael Che to Co-Anchor “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live”

MICHAEL CHE WEEKEND UPDATE
Michael Che Will Co-Anchor SNL’s Weekend Update (Photo: Mindy Tucker)

You’ll be seeing even more of Michael Che come Sept. 27. Bill Carter of The New York Times is reporting that the newest “Daily Show” correspondent and “Saturday Night Live” writer will be taking a spot at the “Weekend Update” desk during SNL’s 40th season.

Che replaces Cecily Strong and will co-host “Update” alongside Colin Jost, who enters his second year in the coveted role. Strong remains a repertory player. Che will end his brief run as a “Daily Show” correspondent in the move.

Che, a native New Yorker who got his start in stand-up in 2009, began writing for SNL in 2013, and joined the “Daily Show” cast this year.  After a season with the largest SNL cast in history, the show announced several changes over the summer. Featured players John Milhiser, Brooks Wheelan and Noël Wells were let go, and Nasim Pedrad is leaving to co-star in the eagerly anticipated “Mulaney.”

Several new writers have been announced, including Natasha Rothwell (who was one of 11 women who auditioned last season for the featured player spot that ultimately went to Sasheer Zamata), Streeter Seidell from College Humor, Nick Rutherford (the only member of sketch group Good Neighbor not hired by SNL last year), UCB LA’s Alison Rich and The PIT’s Jeremy Beiler.

To date, Che is the only new on-screen addition announced. But according to Carter, Lorne Michaels is considering adding one or two more cast members.

In addition to his work on “The Daily Show,” Che was recently as the first stand-up comedian to appear on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”

article by Carol Harstell via huffingtonpost.com

Stand Up Comedian and “SNL” Writer Michael Che Lands Gig as News Correspondent on “The Daily Show”

Michael Che Daily Show

According to Variety.com, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” is hiring stand-up comedian and “Saturday Night Live” writer Michael Che as its newest news correspondent.

Che was the first stand-up comedian to perform on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” this year, and he also recently taped his first stand-up special, which will air on June 6 on Comedy Central as part of the new season of “The Half Hour” stand-up series.

Che is the first correspondent hire since it was announced earlier this month that Stephen Colbert would be leaving his “Daily Show” sister program to replace David Letterman on “Late Show.”   Che will start his new role in June.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson