Does Being on 'SNL' Really Matter?

Actress Kimrie Lewis Davis on why Saturday Night Live is still the pinnacle of the comedy world.

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KLD: There hasn't been a black woman on the show in like five or six years. Maya [Rudolph] had the longest stint. So I hope this is not going to be just a passing thing. Not something where we're like, "See, look what we did! We brought attention to it!" And then we put it to bed until the next black president and first lady are in office.

TR: Do you think Thompson's comments "threw black women under the bus," as some people are suggesting? 

KLD: I think deep down he wants there to be black women on the show. He's even said he doesn't want to play women all the time. So, no, I don't think he was just trying to throw us under the bus. I think he really thinks there is a problem. SNL goes to the Groundlings and to the UCBs  [Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre] of the world to find talent. And I think perhaps in addition to the issue of casting on SNL, these comedy schools don't have the diversity there in the first place. When you go, what you see is young white dudes. So it's no surprise that Lorne is coming out with five new white guys.

TR: Are black female comedians somehow not prepared enough?

KLD: I think right now the style of comedy that's being represented on SNL is like this alternative style of comedy. It's not what we were raised on. You know the three camera-style shows -- Martin, the Cosby Show, Girlfriends. Comedy has changed. It's more subdued. It's not as in-your-face. Perhaps the women they were bringing in weren't ready. But if the casting directors at SNL saw their tapes, there had to be something that brought them in.

If you bring an actress of color in the room, we'll take notes like any other actress, we'll make adjustments. If any of us are given the opportunity to go in and read for SNL, we're going to be ready. And if not, we're going to get ready. Again, I don't know how many of us they brought in. Nobody knows how many of us they're bringing in.

TR: Web series and YouTube have somehow democratized the business. Are women of color actively trying to get on SNL?

KLD: Absolutely, we're still trying to get on the show. It's still the crème de la crème of sketch comedy. It's what the whole country watches. I mean it's SNL, and it has been SNL my entire life. Anybody who's given the opportunity would jump at it.

TR: Do you know fellow black comedians who've gone in to audition?

KLD: I know a few female comedians who've sent in a tape, but they haven't gotten called in.