Superstar singer Adele made her Saturday Night Live hosting debut on October 24, but not all of her sketches won universal acclaim with viewers. In fact, one in particular has the show, Adele, and Kate McKinnon in hot water with a lot of viewers. The sketch in question is called "Africa Tourism," and some of those who have watched it are definitely not happy about it.
In "Africa Tourism," Adele and Kate McKinnon both play blonde divorcées named Joanne (later joined by Heidi Gardner, also playing a blonde divorcée named Joanne) who are touting Africa as a tourist destination. Their comments are thinly-veiled innuendos, offset by Black men carrying women in the background.
The audience laughs in the video are fewer and farther between than a lot of sketches that feature Kate McKinnon, with Adele breaking character getting more laughs than any of the actual jokes. So, it's not altogether surprising that Saturday Night Live viewers took to Twitter with some strong opinions about the sketch. Even one big Adele fan came out and admitted that it didn't work for her:
Adele may have been laughing through more of her lines than she delivered with a straight face, sharply contrasting Kate McKinnon, who rarely cracks up other than her big break during a Weekend Update earlier this season. That person on Twitter isn't the only one who thought that the sketch was "tone deaf." Another person posted:
That Africa skit was tone def, insensitive and inappropriate. Men and women in Nigeria, Namibia, South Africa and The Democratic Republic of the Congo are fighting for their lives and to reduce the continent as sexual destination for white women is shameful.
"Africa Tourism" seemingly didn't account for current events in Africa, as the SNL sketch definitely didn't touch on any of the real-life issues. For another person on social media, the issues with the sketch extended into stereotype territory:
"Not funny" is a common theme among people on social media who shared their issues with the sketch. For at least one person on Twitter, the show itself hasn't been funny lately, and this sketch was just a worse example than most.
Longtime Saturday Night Live viewers (or at least viewers who check out SNL during election seasons) know that the show is no stranger to satire. In fact, Kate McKinnon herself has a talent for being able to impersonate just about anybody, ranging from her popular version of the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to now Rudy Giuliani. The satire of "Africa Tourism" clearly isn't a universal hit, as one person on Twitter made clear in a thread:
I’m the biggest proponent for the clever and incredible writers and staff of SNL but from the start, the Africa skit made me cringe. I think that creating satire to prove a point can be meaningful but this approach was straight up problematic. The whole white women going to Africa for 'tribesmen' was just gross. Half of Twitter is laughing about Adele breaking character and the other half is enraged. But really let’s focus on how inappropriate that was, not Adele laughing. SNL get your shit together. If you’re going to use comedy to prove a point, I get portraying divorcees as thoughtless. But don’t drag Africans down and have them as merely in the background. Really insensitive and careless for a show that is seemingly attuned to the marginalized.
For viewers who might not be aware of the situations that left so many people angry about "Africa Tourism," one teacher shared what he saw as so objectionable in a succinct post:
Other than the "Africa Tourism" sketch, Adele's stint as host was seemingly a hit with viewers. She had previously appeared on Saturday Night Live as musical guest, and actually did sing when she joined as host. While the reaction to the "Africa Tourism" sketch may not be enough to keep her from ever returning to the show, I'm guessing the three Joannes won't be back on SNL. In case you missed it, here's the sketch itself:
The next new episode of Saturday Night Live will be hosted by John Mulaney, with The Strokes as musical guests. The episode airs on October 31, just days ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The odds are very good that there will be more political sketches, and the time would be perfect for more David Pumpkins. Only time will tell if Tom Hanks can return to reprise the character.