Saturday Night Live: Leslie Jones Blasts Critics of Her Slavery-Themed 'Weekend Update' Bit

leslie-jones-slavery-jokes-saturday-night-live-snl-Don’t say you haven’t been warned: Saturday Night Live writer Leslie Jones’ on-screen debut this weekend — built around the idea that her romantic prospects would’ve been much better “back in the slave days” — may merely have been an opening salvo.

Indeed, the comic took to Twitter last night to address critics of her “Weekend Update” monologue — and not only did she eschew contrition, she promised to “go even harder” going forward.

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For those of you who missed the bit (embedded at the end of this post), Jones’ used Lupita Nyong’o’s making the cover of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” issue as a jumping off point to lament her own single status, then segued into an eyebrow-raising spiel about how her strong, 6-ft. frame would’ve made her the “No. 1 slave draft pick” and how “Master would’ve hooked me up with the best brother on the plantation and every nine months, I’d be in the corner having a super-baby.”

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In the wake of social media response to the piece, Jones seemed particularly upset by negative response from black viewers. We’ve transcribed Jones’ 17 Tweets into one full statement below (with just a few edits from Twitter-ese for clarity/grammar):

OK, I wasn’t gonna say anything because I know that dumb people know how to use the computer too, but now this is so ridiculous. Where is the rape, idiots? I said nothing about rape you f—ing morons. I was talking about being match[ed] to another strong brother. Not being raped by [a] white man. What part of this joke that wasn’t true? I would have been used for breeding straight up. That’s my reality.

And it saddens me that BLACK PEOPLE bitch and moan about the most stupid s—. I’m a comic, it is my job to take things and make them funny, to make you think. Especially the painful things. Why are y’all so mad? This joke was written from the pain that one night I realized that black men don’t really f— with me and why am I single. And that in slave days I would have always had a man cause of breeding. If anybody should be offended, it is white folks, ’cause it’s what they did. Y’all so busy trying to be self-righteous, you miss what the joke really is. Very sad I have to defend myself to black people. Now I’m betting if Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle did that joke, or if Jay Z or Kanye put in a rap, they would be called brilliant. ‘Cause they all do this type of material. Just ’cause it came from a strong black woman who ain’t afraid to be real, y’all mad.

So here is my announcement black folks: You won’t stop me and I’m gonna go even harder and deeper now. Cause it’s a shame that we kill each other instead of support each other. This exactly why black people are where we are now, ’cause we’re too f—ing sensitive, and instead of making lemonade out of lemons, we just suck the sour juice from the lemons.

Wake up. I wouldn’t be able to do a joke like that if I didn’t know my history or wasn’t proud of where I came from and who I am. My dad is the biggest militant in the world, and he would have loved that joke. My grandmother went to jail for whooping two white men asses for attacking her; she also was 6’2 and strong. And she laughed her ass off. Get over yourself and you might as well get used to it, ’cause I’m good at what I do and I ain’t going NOWHERE!

Sorry, I had a moment, can’t [win] over the haters; I am not the jackass whisperer. That is all…

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It’s worth noting that earlier this season, SNL faced widespread criticism after cast member Kenan Thompson said the show had failed to hire a black female cast member since Maya Rudolph’s exit in 2007 because “in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.”

In January, SNL added Sasheer Zamata to its cast, and shortly thereafter added Jones and fellow African American LaKendra Tookes to its writing team.

What did you think of Jones’ “Weekend Update” debut? Would you like to see more of her edgy brand of comedy or was her slavery-themed monologue a misfire? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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37 Comments
  1. GuessWhat says:

    I didn’t find it offensive. But I also didn’t find it funny.

    • Matt says:

      I completely agree.

    • Anon432 says:

      I am sure that Jews would laugh at inappropriate Holocaust jokes and then use it as a segue way to discussing Anti-Semitism.

      I wonder if SNL would have allowed a stereotypical looking Jew to tell jokes about the Holocaust.

      The Jews (actually everyone)deserve respect for their painful history and so do African Americans.

      • Scot says:

        Actually, Jews do tell jokes about the Holocaust. I’m Jewish myself and I know several of them. In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it’s called gallows humor.

    • Dan says:

      Mostly, I find it just true — and not the “funny because it’s true” type. She should be allowed to say that in peace and at least try the best in her job.

  2. Kelvin Hart says:

    Leslie injected some much needed energy into Saturday Night Live and sitting next to Colin Jost she looked like the Queen of comedy while he looked like an amateur from a high school production. I thought the bit was hilarious and I love her twitter response. She is right. As a proud black man I’m sick of my brothers and sisters playing the victim. We are our own worse enemy. Keep it coming Leslie and make it as uncomfortable and funny as you can. I can’t wait to see more of you on Saturday Night Live.

    • ksl says:

      Class and talent honors class and talent! Love you both!, Oh, I am a proud white woman who sees a person, not a color. Looking forward to more brilliant comedy from Leslie!

    • LeeS says:

      Bottom line is that it was NOT FUNNY. You can be offensive and funny but this was not funny. The entire show was not much funny and got season low ratings for a reason.

      She is embarrassing herself if she truly thought it was funny. Black people are NOT thin skinned and have laughed at offensive stuff in the past if it was FUNNY.

      Leslie then pulls out not the race card but the gender card. Woe is me, I’m being treated unfairly because I’m female.

      The black SNL male writer of the Harriet Tubman skit got blasted for not being funny too. He also then whined about being attacked by people who said it was not funny.

      There are current black comedy performers/writers who say offensive stuff (Dave Chapelle, Chris Rock, Wanda Skye, JB Smoove, etc.) But they are usually funny while being offensive.

      Bottomline, be FUNNY if you plan to be offensive else STFU.

      P.S. Leslie sounds like she needs some counseling for her self-image issues. I heard a lot of hatred for black men particularly in her response because she thinks they don’t find her attractive. I have friends who look like Leslie and get dates so it could be some other factor not her looks.

  3. LADY_in_MD says:

    I thought it was funny if people really listened what she was really saying is how because of her being a tall strong black woman that black men do not look at her the way they look at petite small black women. If you have seen her stand up before than you would expect this from her. I have seen a few of her specials and a lot of her jokes revolve around her own personal pain of not being a (Quote un quote) “beautiful black woman” what i think is sad in this whole situation is all the black people who are lashing out against her but then turn on Real Housewives of Atlanta or Love and Hip Hop (insert city name) where there are black women and men fighting each other every other episode. What does that promote? How is that ok? What role do those shows play in stereotyping black women and men? Why is the editor of Ebony calling her “an embarrassment” but not the women on these shows who do nothing but trash each other and have PHYSICAL altercations on national tv. I know most of it is fake but what kind of message does that send? Where is the uproar over that?
    I posted this same comment over on EW too.

    • David says:

      I agree with you completely. Her stand up is amazing. People get offended at so much today. Snl hasn’t had anything like her in a long time and I’m glad they are finally trying to show some diversity. The things she says has a message. Those shows you mentioned make people look so stupid and shows us at our worst.

    • ksl says:

      Spot on! Well said!👍

  4. I thought she was great. Hope to see more of her.

    • cjeffery7 says:

      agreed. before i watched the clip i was lead to believe it was potentially “too edgy” for late night tv, or somehow offensive… it was everything to the contrary. has nobody ever seen or heard non-white stand-up comedy before? most of what George Lopez (among many others) talks about is just as “bad” as this. it’s all of a sudden “too real” when someone mentions slavery? good stand-up doesn’t just make you laugh, it more importantly makes you THINK.

  5. hana says:

    Why do I get the feeling like if Blazing Saddles came out today, America would actually faint?

    Good for her.

  6. David says:

    This is exactly what snl needs. I think people’s reactions have been because it was on snl and they haven’t been used to anything remotely edgy in a long time. I hope that they continue to let her do what she does and not hold her back. They need to apply some edginess to the rest of the show and it would start to be funnier again. I do think it’s kind of crappy they chose to put her on towards the end of the season. And if people are offended they should listen to her stand up. She is an amazing talent and should stick around for a while on snl.

  7. M3rc Nate says:

    Loved it, it was so full of truth as well which is always fantastic. Mainly this is just a response of shock because it is so unlike the white-washed watered down sketches about Family Feud that SNL is now adays…she came out and was like BLAM!!!! and people were like “WHOA!! WTF JUST HAPPENED?!” lol.

    I got the gist just from her sitting that she was a big (tall) woman…but considering so much of the joke relied on her being 6′ tall and her appearance..i think the joke would have benefited by us seeing her standing. Idk exactly how they do that…have the Weekend-Update guy stand and while she walks in onto the set and sits down (so we see her compared to him and how big/tall she really is) or maybe the Co-host says something like “aww come on your not that big” when shes done with her joke and then they both stand and she gives him a *do you still think that?* face as they stand side by side, he then says something like “Nvm then” and sits as she walks off the set.

  8. Patrick says:

    I went with Not funny enough to overcome. My problem is that I have heard similar themes and tropes as a child. By other white guys in the rural south.

    “Slavery wasn’t that bad” is a recurring theme amongst many white power supporters. I know that she is black, and I support her right to make whatever jokes she wants. But there are plenty of bad people that will take this at face value and hold up to support their horrible beliefs.

  9. I feel like this material of hers transcends race but can only be told from the perspective of a black woman of her stature. But the same standards are applied to women who are white, Asian, Hispanic or wonderfully mixed. I think of Brienne from Game of Thrones, who appears to be the lone female character capable of carrying herself in a fight, while the others rely on sex, dragons, politics and/or men. So, it’s pretty damn noteworthy to be able to make jokes out of that with a clever racial slant instead of just being miserable about the reality of how unjust it is.

  10. JK says:

    It WASN’T FUNNY.

  11. Babybop says:

    I thought it was funny! I feel like nowadays, you can’t say anything without someone being offended. Everybody just needs to calm down.

  12. I thought it was funny, but I knew when I was watching that it was going to be much debated. Which may be exactly what SNL was looking for.

  13. Donella says:

    Good jokes need no defense and no apology, as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes, Paul Mooney, Lisa Lampanelli, Kathy Griffin, and other comics with edge already know.

    That’s the difference between Leslie Jones and the greats.

    Bad jokes are the ones that require explanation, apologies, defensive reactions (from the comic), and hostility towards the audience.

    As Michael Richards discovered.

    Leslie should likely remain a writer behind-the-scenes since she’s fallen into the Michael Richards groove of attacking the audience out of desperation and fear.

  14. We NEED this woman to bitch-slap this show back to life, pronto! She’s what the spirit of the show is about.

  15. Ted says:

    Loved Leslie. Keep her and get rid of the bland, unfunny Colin Jost. Boy, does he suck.

  16. Luis says:

    Whether in spite of or because of the casting controversy, SNL has done a lot of aggressively racial humor this season, some of which has worked better than others. SNL needs more outside the box bits like this one to remain relevant. This was not the funniest sketch of the year, but I saw a lot of the humor in what she was saying and I hope to see more of her on screen.

  17. Tran says:

    Strong words from Leslie Jones. Wasn’t she one the new writers on SNL when Sasheer Zamata joined the cast?

    • S. says:

      Yeah they mention it in the article. (That info might not’ve been there when you asked that.) I knew she’d catch heat for the sketch, but it was thought out and she made her point. Also, people laughed. Now if someone didn’t laugh, fine, but if they did and then went ‘hey that’s offensive’ that’s on them. They laughed at it.

  18. Annie says:

    That whole rant was tiring, but I do have to take issue with her claim that forced “breeding” is not the same as rape. In the first paragraph she seems to realize that it was rape, but in the next she acts like the act was consensual. That doesn’t make any sense, and is problematic given that there are a whole lot of people who are working very hard to re-write history when it comes to slavery.

  19. Definitely funny. Maybe not comedy gold from start to finish, but I definitely lost it at the idea of super-babies. Really if you went back much further in history and wanted to talk about a time where the strong led and survived she’d have the same point in a way (I’m talking caveman times where being able to contribute and fend for one’s self is probably important).

  20. pat carroll says:

    I just watched the video and I am now a fan. She’s fearless and funny and insightful and edgy without being offensive. I look forward to seeing more of her. I had not heard of her until today.

  21. cjeffery7 says:

    i see no reason for anybody to be calling her out about this. it was poignant, it was funny, it made me not only think about HER harsh reality that she faces as black woman, but also reminds me that we all face our own harsh realities, and that it’s ok to joke about it. a life without being able to make light of the tough stuff is going to be a rough one.

  22. Rese says:

    I watched it, loved it and immediately followed her on a Twitter. I’m on my way to YouTube to look up her standup routines.

  23. invisiblegenius says:

    “Jackass whisperer” might be my new favorite phrase.

  24. G. says:

    I laughed. Damn, can a b***h get a BEEF BOWL? I hear ya, sister.
    I actually want to watch SNL again for the first time in a while, now.

    But who the heck is the new host? Talk about forgettable …

  25. TD says:

    Regardless of whether or not you found her bit funny and/or offensive, it was DANGEROUS…and THAT is something that we haven’t seen on SNL for ages. So for that alone, kudos to Leslie Jones.

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