ISSUE: Affirmative Comedy


After Saturday Night Live hired Sasheer Zamata in a special casting session for black females last year, comedians of color were full of hope.

“I thought I’m sure they’re going to talk about the bigger picture. They’re going to say there’s never been an Asian, there’s never been a Latina woman,” said Jesenia, a comedian in the Bronx who goes by one name.

That didn’t happen. Instead, she and her comedic partner, Jenni Ruiza, saw another example of what they say is a long tradition of stereotypical Latina characters.

So they made a video depicting all the Latina stereotypes that have appeared on the show, such as horny and ignorant.

The video received more than 10,000 views.

“People are constantly asking us, ‘What’s your next video? What are you going to tell Lorne Michales? What are you going to tell NBC?” Jesenia said. “That’s not us. That is why we followed it up with the video ‘I Feel Crampy.’ It’s about little girls getting their periods for the first time.”

“We’re not activists. We’re at the core comedians,” Ruiza said. “It’s really crazy to see what the media responds to and what goes quote-un-quote viral.”

They say that they’d prefer if all casting were colorblind. “The greatest comedians out there speak to everyone. You don’t have to be black to like Bill Cosby,” Ruiza said.

But right now executives don’t hire Latina women in comedy for good roles. “I have no problems with playing maids, but not when it is a Latina maid and her line is ‘Si. Si Señor.’ Can we move on from the 1960s?” Jesenia said.

If they don’t see things improve, they plan on taking TV comedy into their own hands. “At some point we’ll stop watching and create our own content where we can play normal characters,” Ruiza said. “There are 53 million of us and counting, and we pay for the salaries for these executives.”

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