Earlier this week, Roxane Gay sharply critiqued last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live, which featured actress Kerry Washington. Washington is only the eighth black woman to host the show since it’s inception in 1975. Gay added, “For the most part, Saturday Night Live is a white boys club and unapologetically so. The current repertory and featured casts feature no black women, no Latino women or men, no Asian or South Asian men or women, and no Indian men or women.” That “no South Asian men or women, and no Indian men or women” part especially hit us hard, because if you look at the television landscape right now, some of the funniest people are brown: Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, and Community‘s Danny Pudi.
But because no one would leave a cushy gig at a zeitgeist-infiltrating primetime comedy — we did a little digging around and found some other comedians, stand-up and otherwise, who we think would be right at home on the stage of SNL. In no particular order, here they are:
• Rasika Mathur could very well be all that’s needed to make SNL funny again. She’s currently on MTV2’s Wild ‘N Out.
• Hasan Minhaj is a comedian who had a bit role on the short-lived Raven Symoné-starring ABC Family sitcom State of Georgia. Here he is with a couple friends punking a local Abercrombie & Fitch store, highlighting their diversity problem.
Qurrat Ann Kadwani
• Meanwhile, Qurrat Ann Kadwani‘s They Call Me Q shows off her incredible range.
• Was the portrayal of Indians on NBC’s Outsourced problematic? Yes. Did comedian Parvesh Cheena make the most of the material he was given — and make us laugh in the process? Yes. Should he be given a chance to show it off to an American audience through a slightly less ridiculous primetime show? Again, yes.
• You might remember that Ashton Kutcher-in-brownface PopChips debacle. Comedienne Puja Mohindra did. And instead of lashing out against him she used the opportunity to show off her own comedic chops while gracefully bringing him down a peg.
• Meanwhile, Rati Gupta’s Cruel Intentions parody — which she wrote and starred in — shows just how pitch-perfect she could be in a comedy universe like SNL‘s.
Is SNL the end-all, be-all for comedic performers? Of course not. But in looking at how such a show has been a vehicle to superstardom for performers like Tina Fey or Will Ferrell, it only makes sense that SNL open new opportunities up to performers of all kinds — especially in an age when Miss America, of all cultural figures, is forcing the country to re-examine its discussions of race.