'Saturday Night Live' pokes fun at diversity issue

Associated Press
FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2013, file photo released by NBC, actress Kerry Washington, right, stands with cast member Taran Killam during a promotional shoot for "Saturday Night Live," in New York. After receiving criticism recently for its lack of a black female cast member, the show on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, opened with a skit where guest host Washington portrayed Michelle Obama, then Oprah Winfrey. She was asked to change into a Beyonce outfit - before executive producer Lorne Michaels stepped in. (AP Photo/NBC, Dana Edelson, File)
.

View photo

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2013, file photo released by NBC, actress Kerry Washington, right, stands with cast member Taran Killam during a promotional shoot for "Saturday Night Live," in New York. After receiving criticism recently for its lack of a black female cast member, the show on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, opened with a skit where guest host Washington portrayed Michelle Obama, then Oprah Winfrey. She was asked to change into a Beyonce outfit - before executive producer Lorne Michaels stepped in. (AP Photo/NBC, Dana Edelson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — With Kerry Washington as guest host, "Saturday Night Live" wasted no time poking fun at itself after receiving criticism for having no black women among its 16 regular cast members.

In the opening skit, the "Scandal" actress portrayed First Lady Michelle Obama, talking with her husband about an upcoming state dinner at the White House.

"Michelle, this is such a treat," said the president, impersonated by Jay Pharoah. "I feel like it's been years since I've seen you."

An aide came in, saying Oprah Winfrey had arrived for the dinner and wanted to see the president. "Don't you think you should get changed?" he asked Washington. She wondered whether cast member Kenan Thompson couldn't play Winfrey; both Thompson and Pharoah have said recently they will no longer impersonate women on the NBC late-night comedy institution.

Washington left the stage and returned as Winfrey. She was then asked to portray Beyonce — before show producer Steve Higgins interrupted with a voiceover.

Higgins said producers would like to apologize to Washington for the number of black women she would be asked to play in the show.

"We make this request both because Ms. Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent, and also because 'Saturday Night Live' does not currently have a black woman in the cast," he said. "We agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it in the future — unless, of course, we fall in love with another white guy first."

The show has had four black women among its regular cast since coming on the air in 1975 with the last one, biracial Maya Rudolph, leaving in 2007. Both Pharoah and Thompson have recently addressed the situation in interviews, with Pharoah even lobbying for a specific comic to be added — Darmirra Brunson of the OWN sitcom "Love Thy Neighbor."

To drive the point home in the skit, the presidential aide announced that six different Matthew McConaugheys were there to attend the state dinner — and six different white male cast members trooped in dressed as the actor.

Then the Rev. Al Sharpton appeared on the stage.

"What have we learned from this sketch?" Sharpton said. "As usual, nothing."

He then delivered the show's traditional opening line of "live from New York, it's Saturday night."

During the show, Washington portrayed a gum-chewing assistant to a career counselor, a political science professor discussing her unwavering support for Obama, Miss Uganda in a beauty pageant, a game show host, a teacher at the dunk tank in a school carnival and an 18-year-old contestant in an MTV dating game.

She also joked about "Scandal" co-star Tony Goldwyn, saying that she was "proud to be on a show that has the courage to cast a white man as president" in 2013.

View Comments (1194)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • Central Florida man killed by police serving search warrant

    By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Central Florida man died after being shot in the face early on Wednesday morning by a sheriff’s deputy attempting to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation, authorities said. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported in a…

    Reuters
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

    By Madjiasra Nako N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - President Idriss Deby of Chad said on Wednesday he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, and called on him to surrender or risk being killed. Chad's army has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram…

    Reuters
  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

    AFP
  • Student Shot With BB Gun On Campus Shocked by University`s Reaction

    A student at Norfolk State University says she was shot with a BB gun and hit with a bottle of urine outside of a all-male dorm room on campus, but says the school offered little help to her or other students when she contacted them.

    Tribune
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP
  • Couple plead not guilty to locking up kids 22 hours a day

    JEFFERSON, Ohio (AP) — A husband and wife accused of making three of their adopted children virtual prisoners inside their Ohio home pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a case that began after prosecutors say two girls crashed the family van while trying to make their escape.

    Associated Press
  • Pre-teen who called out Obama gets kicked off Facebook

    Pearson, under Facebook’s minimum age requirement of 13, was upset to find out that he was locked out of his account. After failing to get into his personal page, he created a new one, according to a Fox News blog post. “Due to the fact that approximately 7.5 million kids (under the age of 13) log…

    Christian Science Monitor52 mins ago
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • Judge Napolitano on 'scathing' federal report on Ferguson PD

    Insight from Fox News senior judicial analyst

    FOX News Videos
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…

    Reuters
  • Passengers use emergency slides after landing in Denver

    DENVER (AP) — Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, were forced to slide off the plane on emergency chutes soon after landing in Denver on Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Father says no proof his son is 'Jihadi John'

    The father of "Jihadi John" said in an interview published Wednesday that there was no proof that his son was the Islamic State executioner, adding there were a number of "false rumours" circulating. "There is nothing that proves what is being circulated in the media, especially through video clips…

    AFP
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press
  • Marijuana Growers Arrested After Pocket Dialing 911

    Three men in California were arrested Monday night after one of the suspects pocket dialed 911. The emergency operator who took the call heard two of the men talking about the possibility of getting pulled over, leading to a major drug bust.

    KSWB - San Diego