It’s official: Come January, SNL will be adding a black woman to its cast. (And possibly two, though Lorne Michaels is reportedly wary of having too many broads on set. Sigh.)
That woman could be one of the 11 comedians who apparently auditioned for SNL in a special showcase at L.A.’s Groundlings Theater. Comedian Simone Shepherd tagged them all in an Instagram photo that has since been taken down — and after looking into each one, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of talent here. So much for black women not being ready for the Not Ready for Primetime Players.
Learn more about all 11 — and see some of their best work — below. (NBC and Shepherd haven’t yet responded to our request for comment.)
Shepherd — an actor, writer, and director — is the comedian who originally posted the group shot of SNL‘s black female hopefuls. She’s best known online for teaming with Kevin Hart’s ex-wife Torrei Hart to spoof VH1’s Basketball Wives LA; her first parody has nearly 460,000 views on YouTube.
Shepherd’s also got a very active Instagram feed where she frequently posts videos, including this shot of her as “Morgan Freeman’s daughter” — who’s also named Morgan Freeman. Love the freckles.
Like Key and Peele? Then you should know that during a Fresh Air interview, the duo name-checked Ruffin as a black woman who deserves a slot on SNL. Ruffin, naturally, has appeared on Key and Peele before. She’s also a Second City alum and a member of the sketch group Robot Down, which produces offbeat videos like the following gem.
Byer is one of the best known comedians in this group — she’s already got a massive Twitter following (195,000 followers!), thanks perhaps to her role on MTV’s Girl Code. Byer has appeared on IFC’s new sketch show The Birthday Boys, on 30 Rock (as a Mo’Nique lookalike), and “a Nestle commercial that only runs in Israel,” according to her bio on the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre’s website. Oh yeah: She’s also active in the tight-knit UCB community, performing with a variety of improv teams and in web videos like this one:
She’s an NSFW standup with lots of stage and screen appearances, including on a recent episode of Arsenio. She, er, also told TMZ that the audition was just a publicity stunt. Maybe instead of that, we should concentrate on this viral video from 2009, which features Haddish as a vengeful Rihanna.
Webb already appears on TV each week: She’s the star of Love That Girl, TVOne’s first original sitcom. Webb plays boisterous Imunique Jefferson (pronounced “I’m Unique”); she was a supporting character until the show’s original star, Tatyana Ali, left at the end of season 3. Webb also had a recurring role on ER near the end of the show’s run and, according to her website, has recently branched out into the world of standup as well.
Fans of The Game may remember Dennis as Janay Brice, ex-girlfriend of Pooch Hall’s Derwin Davis and the mother of his child. Dennis recurred on The Game for four seasons. She’s also one of the stars of 2009’s Bring It On: Fight to the Finish. (That’s the one with Christina Millian.)
Brunson stars in her own YouTube series The Darmirra Show, which often features the comedian doing impressions of people like Oprah and Beyonce. The Oprah connection goes even further: Brunson currently plays Drew on Tyler Perry’s Love Thy Neighbor, which airs on OWN. She also already has a fan in current SNL cast member Jay Pharoah, who earlier this year said Brunson deserved a spot on SNL, adding, “She’s amazing. She needs to be on SNL. I said it.” – Erin Strecker
Her Twitter bio reads, “I’m a news reporter, host, and funny girl.” Here’s the impression showcase reel that she uploaded to her YouTube channel over the summer. Has the show finally found Maya Rudolph’s Oprah successor? – Erin Strecker
Azie Mira Dungey
Her 2013 video series Ask A Slave — inspired by Dungey’s time working as a living history character at Mount Vernon — has earned Dungey a major viral following. On the show, she plays Lizzie Mae, a housemaid to George and Marthan Washington. According to her official website, Dungey graduated from New York University and has also appeared in other web shows. – Erin Strecker
She’s a stand-up comedian who has appeared on My Wife and Kids, In the House, and The Jamie Foxx Show. Here’s video of her performing a set in 2012. – Erin Strecker
Monroe is a writer and actress in the Sunday company at the Groundlings. Her Groundlings bio reads, “I received my BA in Theater from San Diego State University and an MA from CSULA. I teach drama to elementary school children in the Watts area. I saw a Groundlings show and fell in love with the funny! I rescheduled my Groundlings audition three times because I was so nervous. I have appeared on Hart of Dixie and How I Met Your Mother.” She’s also appeared as a stripper named Destiny in the 2012 comedy short Tim Gunn: Project Strip Club. – Erin Strecker
Which comedians do you think have the most SNL potential?