Dave Chappelle won his first Emmy Award on Sunday, thanks to his “Saturday Night Live” hosting debut just days after Donald Trump was elected president. Chappelle’s November 12 “SNL” episode delivered the franchise’s season high in adults 18-49 and total viewers, and the show’s highest 18-49 rating since 2013.
And now, it has delivered Chappelle an Emmy for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. The comedian won the statuette Sunday in a field that included two other “SNL” hosts: Tom Hanks and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
On TV talk shows, the host introduces a guest, then music plays while the guest emerges from backstage. On podcasts, the etiquette is still being worked out. The host often launches into an introduction while the guest sits quietly in the same sound booth. A couple of years ago, the co-hosts of a podcast called “Alias Smith and LeRoi” began this way, speaking about their guest, the comedian Leslie Jones, as if she were not there.
“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.”
The Ghostbusters Abby (Melissa McCarthy), Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), Erin (Kristen Wiig) and Patty (Leslie Jones) inside the Mercado Hotel Lobby in Columbia Pictures’ GHOSTBUSTERS.
Who you gonna call? I know it’s early to get geeked about summer movies seeing as winter just officially started last week, but when I saw this new image from the upcoming all-female version of GHOSTBUSTERS, I got more than a little hyped, especially since SNL’s Leslie Jones looks like such a b-o-s-s in the photo!
Jones, alongside fellow comedic beasts Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig, is making GHOSTBUSTERS look like it will be the comedy-action event movie of 2016. And truth be told, I also can’t wait to see who’s going to cover the Ray Parker, Jr. title song.
I’m personally hoping for a fresh take from a female artist like Rihanna, Beyoncé or Mary J. Blige – or even a way-out hip-hop version from Nicki Minaj.
Is there any movie or event you’re excited about that’s coming in 2016? If so, sound off below!
First Lady Michelle Obama and Jay Pharaoh (via COLLEGE HUMOR)
Just call her “Flow-tus,” because Michelle Obama has flow and bars. The first lady teamed up with Saturday Night Live’sJay Pharoah in a new rap song that encourages teens to attend college.
In the video, produced by College Humor, Pharoah and Obama rap about the benefits of attending college, minus the student loans, of course.
“South Side Chicago, we all know, we had to do overtime every night to make it tomorrow,” Obama raps. “And everyone could really make their dream true. Hey, kid listenin’ in Michigan, that could be you!”
The year 2015 is ending on a high for Hip-Hop. Earlier in the week, Kendrick Lamar was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, the most ever for a Hip-Hop performer in a single year. And, tonight (12/12), Chance The Rapper became the first independent artist, in any genre, to perform on the 40-year old sketch comedy franchise, “Saturday Night Live.”
Chance performed 2 songs on the SNL stage. The first was “Somewhere In Paradise” with Jeremih. As is often the case, the song was part rap, part singing and all Chance catching the spirit, as he showed his jubilation for being on stage, both vocally and physically. His lyrics were joyous, even stating that there were people in his life who said he’d never reach this point, and yet, here he was. He also covered every inch of the stage with spirited dance moves. Jeremih joined halfway through and was the recipient of a bear hug at the end from the MC who seemed overwhelmed by the moment. Chance also was supported by a full band, which included his longtime collaborator, Donnie Trumpet, with whom he released the Surfalbum earlier this year, under the collective name of The Social Experiment.
Chance’s second song was “Sunday Candy,” his sweet love song from Surf. Unlike the first performance, this one was much more staid, with Chance seated while backed by his band and choir. Even still, his joyousness shone through the rain about which he sang. To take a look at both performances, click here.
Actress and comedian Sasheer Zamata, known for her breakout role on the cast of Saturday Night Live, will partner with the American Civil Liberties Union to support women’s rights. She joins the ACLU as a celebrity ambassador on the heels of her recent promotion to repertory player for SNL’s 41st season, her third season with the show.
In her role as an ambassador, Zamata will elevate the ACLU’s work to fight gender inequality and structural discrimination against women in employment, education, healthcare, housing, and criminal justice through advocacy and public education. The ACLU Women’s Rights Project was co-founded in 1972 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called women’s rights “an essential part of the overall human rights agenda.”
Zamata is featured in Sasheer Zamata Says Women’s Rights “Still a BFD!” a new ACLU video that puts the spotlight on gender inequality and privilege.
“It’s so wonderful that women continue to break down barriers and change societal expectations, but women still suffer discrimination for their gender, class and race,” says Zamata. “I am honored to continue the fight for equal economic opportunities, the right to choose, and an end to gender-based violence by serving as an ACLU Celebrity Ambassador.”
Though strides have been made in the past several decades to advance and protect the rights of women and girls, there’s a lot left to do. In the U.S. today:
Women make only 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man; African-American women only earn 64 cents; and Latinas, only 55 cents for each dollar earned by a white man;
A woman’s right to choose is threatened by extreme lawmakers who have introduced more than 100 abortion restrictions in 2015 alone;
Few legal protections exist for pregnant workers and new mothers, putting families in danger of economic instability, though women are the primary breadwinners in 4 out of 10 families with children.
“We are thrilled to name Sasheer Zamata as our newest celebrity ambassador,” says Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “She is the perfect voice for the next generation, and especially for those looking to effect real and lasting change on women’s rights issues.”
Zamata—who was named one of Cosmopolitan’s “13 Funny Women to Watch in 2014,”—joins Harry Belafonte, Michael K. Williams, Lewis Black, Marlee Matlin, and others, to amplify the ACLU’s work on priority civil liberties issues, including mass incarceration, voting rights, disability rights, and LGBT equality.