Dear Colin Jost,
You know I love you. I really do. But somebody, if not everybody, is going to write about you.
Love you much!!
First, let me say my relationship with "Saturday Night Live" is... complicated. Much like "The Simpsons," I grew up on this show. A lot of my humor as a child was formed watching the show. Without SNL I would not have been blessed with Eddie Murphy, who is and remains the Jesus of comedy, next to Richard Pryor’s God. If there was no SNL there would be no Tina Fey, and to a large extension no “30 Rock” and to extend upon that thought, no “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and Titus Burgess. A blasphemous thought.
The show featured such infamous characters as “the church lady” and “Debbie Downer” and so many other characters that left me wheezing on the floor. But Lorne Michaels, much like the Democratic party you take black folks for granted. Not only do you seem to not to care about us, but your response to a call for more representation on your show left us with Leslie Jones, a comedian limited in scope and range and likeability frankly. Maybe this is your general model because in fairness many many many many many many many many many many many many many many caucasian choices for cast members were just as bland.
But even I must admit I didn’t realize how out of touch the show was until it was announced Wednesday that Michael Che would be boosted to the co-head writer position along with Colin Jost.
I was stunned to learn Che would be a first black “anything” in 2017. It seems remarkable that feat would be conversation-worthy in this time and age. But it is - because it’s ridiculous.
I can’t dwell on that though. I am enthused that SNL may finally have someone at the helm who can and wants to do a deep dive into black culture. There is a vast plethora of subject matter that only seems to be dragged out when Kerry Washington shows up. By the way, while you have been sleeping SNL black culture and it’s global relevance and importance has moved into the forefront of the conversation. And not just by Trump's racist tweets. Some would argue it always has, you just chose to ignore it.
Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” was arguably the most important film of the last several years. Black journalists are being excluded and demeaned with this administration. Our music is the conversation. Beyonce and Jay-Z's love letters through multimillion-selling albums are beyond significant. (Yes ya'll did a lemonade sketch - yes but the story was bigger ya'll)
And even when you do have black hosts on, their talents never seem to match their talent. Tiffany Haddish of "Girls Trip" is a blessing to any stage, but it felt like the staff didn’t know what to do with her. She was left dangling in lukewarm skits. Chance the Rapper faired slightly better, but with his own personal charm outshining some of the material.
With Che, who is a seasoned comedian and writer trained on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." To white folks that is like black actors being on “The Wire.” At least his comedy creds may allow him to let loose and experiment a little on the show.
Che is the perfect black millennial, comfortable in his blackness, "woke" as the youngins say, but not too entrenched in the party line, not to question ourselves. He also knows that while his jokes come off black he is simultaneously educating as he goes along. Most people trying to navigate this tightrope fall. But Che is not afraid to call a spade a spade or a cracker a cracker.
His comedy special on Netflix, “Michael Che Matters” gives us a little hint into the mind of the comedian. He is aware that some of the beliefs and fears are silly, and yet we laugh with him. He knows when to be part of the joke and when to be the brunt of it. He also knows when to take a stab at another demographic with hilarious effect. Check out his skit “A White Girl Named Gretchen” It is both a play on whiteness, blackness and being a very specific kind of hipster New Yorker.
As the co-host with Jost, Che delivers the goods, with timely questions. He is also able to break from host character and call a behavior crazy. We need that at this time. We need to call out crazy. And finally, we have a black man at the helm to do it. Yes, it feels like Lorne (Can I call you Lorne Mr. Michaels?) just picked up an old memo about affirmative action from 1981 and just put it in action. You shouldn't get props for doing something that should have been done eons ago.
SIDE NOTE - Just because Ms. Jones is on the air and Sasheer Zamata is no longer on the show, doesn’t mean there is not at least a borough-full of wonderfully talent black women you can add to your roster.
Mr, Che if I run into you on the NYC streets I will be sure to give you some Obama-like dap because I know you will need the support If this season flops you may find yourself selling Netflix subscriptions over the phone. And if SNL takes advantage of a barely used lens and the rating soar — well your black you know you could still lose your job. Stay strong brother and good luck,