‘Saturday Night Live’ hires comic Sasheer Zamata

Sasheer Zamata, above, is joining "Saturday Night Live's" cast for the Jan. 18 episode. (Cate Hellman) Sasheer Zamata, above, is joining “Saturday Night Live’s” cast for the Jan. 18 episode. (Cate Hellman)

I think it’s great that “Saturday Night Live” is adding Sasheer Zamata, above, to its roster. She fills a much-needed hole in a cast that’s lacking in women and full of generic white dudes. I’m not going to congratulate Lorne Michaels, though.

I don’t mean that Zamata’s hiring isn’t a big deal — being the first black woman to join the “SNL” cast since Maya Rudolph left in 2007 is huge for her. It just shouldn’t be news that “SNL” hired a black woman.

Zamata does impressions of Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Kerry Washington and Rihanna — all people “SNL” could have fun with. But what if that’s all “SNL” uses her for?

Based on her Web videos and experience doing sketches, stand-up and improv with the Upright Citizens Brigade, she’s capable of much more than impressions.

Think about how “SNL” has used Jay Pharoah since he joined the cast in 2010. If he’s not doing an impression of Denzel Washington, President Barack Obama or Kanye West, he’s often unseen.

If Zamata only plays people we already know, “SNL” is doing a disservice to its viewers, Zamata and the show itself.

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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