The departure of fan favorite Jay Pharaoh from the legendary sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live last year shocked many. Now, the funny man is getting candid about his thoughts behind the reasons he may have been let go.
Pharaoh stopped by Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning on Thursday (Apr. 13), and talked with the hosts about how SNL tried to keep him in a box, stunting his growth as a performer.
“Look man, I’mma say this, you go where you’re appreciated,” Pharaoh told Peter Rosenberg. “If you have multiple people on the cast saying things like ‘you’re so talented…it’s unfair, they don’t use you’…they put people into boxes and whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do.”
He also said that his unwillingness to participate in certain sketches, as well as his outspoken personality, also played a factor.
“I’m fiery, I’m not a ‘yes’ ni**a. That’s not me,” he continued. “‘We got this great idea where you put on a dress,’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not doing that.’ I’m not putting on a dress, I’m not gettin’ no tweets from David Banner.”
The stand-up comic explained that his bluntness may have also swayed execs to hire more black performers and writers for the show, but it nearly cost him his job. He made comments about the lack of black actresses on the show back in 2013 that gained traction.
“I have a lot of kick back, but when the hiring of the black women, Sasheer [Zamata], [writer] LaKendra Tookes and Leslie [Jones]…me speaking up, they were ready to get rid of me in 2013 when I spoke up,” he explained. “When I said what I said…I almost freakin’ lost my job.”
However, Pharaoh does not harbor any negative feelings towards executive producer Lorne Michaels, and explained that their dynamic is different since Pharaoh is more “affirmative” than the other cast members.
“A lot of people are afraid of Lorne…Lorne, I respect the hell out of,” he said. “I like Lorne, ain’t no problem with Lorne Michaels. There ain’t no beef with Lorne, but there have been some shaky times.”
Pharaoh will be starring in a Showtime comedy sitcom called White Famous, which is based on Jamie Foxx’s experiences in Hollywood.
Check out the entire interview below. His comments are at the beginning.