Sasheer Zamata made her “Saturday Night Live” debut just days after the iconic sketch-comedy show opened its writer’s room to two black female comics. But there were no Beyoncé, Oprah or Michelle Obama skits on the 27-year-old comedian’s maiden episode.
Instead, Zamata played characters — bored high-schooler, embarrassed 13-year-old at a slumber party — for which race was often incidental. That’s good. It’s not that we don’t appreciate that the Upright Citizens Brigade alumna can do a pretty funny Queen Bey, it’s just that we don’t want it to be the only time she sees her name on the week’s script.
Zamata’s addition fills a void opened after Maya Rudolph’s exit in 2007, and her arrival should be applauded. But real progress, to us, means she can play girls (and boys!) who, as in her web series “The Pursuit of Sexiness” with MTV “Girl Code’s” Nicole Byer are “broke, single, self-absorbed” and, oh yeah, black.
So how did Zamata (pronounced zuh-MAY-tuh) do? Last night’s show was a soft introduction; she appeared rather frequently but in limited roles that didn’t require her to carry the comic load. Just getting her feet wet. Read on for a breakdown of all of her appearances.
Drake Throws Another Bar Mitzvah
Zamata plays Auntie Rhonda to Kenan Thompson’s Uncle Larry during the bar mitzvah for guest host/ performer/ real-life nice Jewish boy Drake in this skit. She’s arm candy in it but we did laugh imagining her interior monologue: Her hiring came less than three months after Thompson, who’s also African-American, famously told TVGuide.com that “SNL” was super short on black female comics because not one could ever properly prepare for the auditions.
Rihanna Twerks On TV
Well, she doesn’t full-out twerk, but Zamata-as-Rihanna-as-Blossom does show off some of the Bajan pop diva’s raunchier dance moves in a funny spoof of the wholesome, early-’90s sitcom “Blossom.” The segment is one of several in the hilarious skit “Hip Hop Classics: Before They Were Stars,” hosted by MTV News’ own Sway (played by Thompson in an bee-hive-shaped headpiece).
“That’s So 2 Chainz”
In a send-up of Disney’s “That’s So Raven,” 2 Chainz (Jay Pharoah) gives Sasheer’s Woodridge High student some much needed encouragement before talent show auditions and scares the life out of two tiara-wearing mean girls. Zamata plays a supporting role here as Pharoah adds to his growing arsenal of rapper impressions.
The Revolution Will Be Televised
It was either meant to be a commercial or a music video about failed New Year’s resolutions; we’re still not sure. But Zamata dances and sings the words “resolution, revolution” with a calendar as a backdrop before Drake and various “SNL” players break in to rap about giving up everything from sex toys to herbal refreshments.
Truth Or Dare
Mr. Gorman (Drake)’s 13-year-old daughter (Zamata) invites friends over for a slumber party but has trouble steering the convo back to cute seventh-grade boys when one of her besties reveals she has a crush on the host’s dorky dad. Drake is spot-on as the bespectacled, lusted-after father, and Zamata is convincing as the red-faced teen.
Head Of The Class
Zamata plays one of a handful of high school students locked in detention, but Drizzy gets top billing in this skit opposite the unstoppable Vanessa Bayer. Turns out Drizzy’s Tupac lookalike has a thing for his “mature” substitute poetry teacher, and her taste for floral dresses from Chico’s inspires some steamy verse from the teen.