Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah had some harsh criticism for the perennial sketch comedy series. Last August, Pharoah and Taran Killam were both suddenly let go from the show without much explanation from the producers, prompting Killam to admit to Uproxx, “I was never given a reason why, really.”
Pharoah had been mostly silent about the situation, until he opened up during a recent interview with New York’s HOT 97 radio station. SNL producers, he said, “put people into boxes, and whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do.” Pharoah admitted that he is “fiery” and not a “yes n***a” who agrees to do a sketch or character that he does not find funny.
Pharoah is far from the first cast member to lambaste the series after leaving it. In fact, the book Live From New York is filled with sour grapes from the high-stress halls of 30 Rockefeller Plaza from writers and actors who felt used and/or abused by Lorne Michaels’s never-ending sketch show.
Just this week, Norm Macdonald, who served as “Weekend Update” anchor throughout the mid-’90s, tweeted about his own dismissal.
The night I was fired from SNL they had a dinner. Only one person stood up for me, doesn’t know I know. I know. I love you, Molly Shannon.
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) April 11, 2017
Macdonald was “officially” let go, because NBC president Don Ohlmeyer stated that he didn’t find him funny. But there’s a rumor that Ohlmeyer was actually displeased with Macdonald’s constant joking about O.J. Simpson, a close friend of Ohlmeyer, one he even publicly defended as innocent.
The show’s friction dates all the way back to the early years. Original cast member Jane Curtin told Oprah in an interview that John Belushi felt women were “fundamentally not funny.” Curtin said Belushi “would not read [a sketch] in his full voice,” because “he felt as though it was his duty to sabotage pieces that were written by women.”
In 1997, Will Ferrell allegedly had Chevy Chase banned from ever returning to host after Chase slapped Cheri Oteri in the face “out of fun.”
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You can watch sketches from the latest episodes of Saturday Night Live on Yahoo View:
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