Why Jay Pharoah Got Fired From SNL, According To Jay Pharoah

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Saturday Night Live is as popular as it's been in ages in Season 42, and one person missing out on all that celebration is former cast member Jay Pharoah, who was fired before the season began along with fellow multi-year vet Taran Killam. Though he's been relatively quiet about the situation since it all went down, Pharoah recently shared his thoughts on why he got booted from the show, and he's calling out the writers and producers for, among other things, trying to make him do things he didn't want to do. In his words:

You go where you're appreciated. If you have multiple people on the cast saying things like, 'You're so talented, and you're able and they don't use you, and it's unfair. And it's making us feel back because the don't use you, and you're like a talent.' They just, I think, they put people into boxes, and whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do. And I'm real fiery, too, man. I'm not a yes nigga. That's not me.

No holding Jay Pharoah back now that he's not part of the show anymore, right? When dropping his info bombs on the Hot97 radio show Ebro in the Morning, the comedian did say that he still respects creator Lorne Michaels and has love for him, so his issues were clearly aimed at people lower on the totem pole. He brought up one example where he was told to put on a dress, and he refused since it apparently didn't seem like the best use of said dress, and that didn't sit will with the writers.

In the six years he was part of the Saturday Night Live cast, Jay Pharoah put on a number of solid impressions, including Barack Obama, which used to be one of his most popular ones. Pharoah says that the writers basically stopped writing material for his Obama and didn't have very good excuses; he says he feels like they gave up on it and preferred to rely on celeb cameos. SNL's resurgence came thanks in large part to a renewed cultural relevance at the feet of Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump impression, along with other notable political bits, so even though the show basically just mimics things that happen in real life rather than anything more imaginative, it's kind of weird that Baldwin's Trump and Pharoah's Obama weren't regularly butting heads last season.

What's more, Jay Pharoah also says that he could have been fired back in 2013. When Shasheer Zamata was hired, the actor spoke up about the lack of black women in the world of Saturday Night Live, and apparently that was enough to land him in some hot water, with him claiming he could have lost his job over it. Not that any of these things were reasons that Lorne Michaels gave for why Pharoah (and Taran Killam) got fired, but then I guess Michaels wouldn't actually say any of these things.

You can catch Saturday Night Live's final four episodes of the season on Saturday nights on NBC at 11:35 p.m. ET. And because you can't keep a good Jay Pharoah down, you can catch him in his new Showtime comedy White Famous at some point possibly later this year. To see everything else coming to the small screen son, head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.