A lot of comedians who have tried out for Saturday Night Live have told their audition stories over the years, but I can’t recall anyone having an audition as ballsy and brazen as Leslie Jones.’ The SNL Season 41 featured player recently shared her audition story, which featured some bits from her stand-up routine and more. However, she also says that when she walked onstage, it was really dark and everyone was sitting toward the back of the room. Obviously, she wasn’t going to stand for that. Here’s what happened:
I got onstage, took the mike out of the stand, and went, ‘Nope. Y’all are gonna have to move up to where I can see you.’ And Lorne got his ass up and moved.
I can’t imagine asking SNL’s most distinguished and veteran personality to just come out of the shadows and pay closer attention to me, but I guess it doesn’t surprise me that Leslie Jones would do something at least a little over-the-top during her audition. This is the woman who made waves during her first "Weekend Update" appearance when she talked about how good of a breeder she would have been back in the slavery days in the US. If she wanted Lorne Michaels’ ass to move, he was gonna move.
Leslie Jones also revealed to the New Yorker that Chris Rock was responsible for getting her in front of Lorne and the others to audition. But even with the nod from the former SNL cast member, Jones lost the initial position to Sasheer Zamata, who is currently a repertory player on the show. (Jones said she was “fucking pissed” about losing out.) However, she did get a call back from Lorne Michaels, who asked her to be a writer on the show. Then in Season 40, she made her “Weekend Update” debut and in Season 41, she started appearing more often on the show. During this time, Leslie Jones became the oldest cast member Saturday Night Live had ever hired.
Clearly, while her early audition didn’t yield her the spot in SNL’s cast she wanted, the whole writing thing worked out and did eventually lead to the stage work that she had initially tried out for. What I like most about her audition story, however, is its cockiness. Everyone from failed attempter Kel Mitchell to high-end talent like Will Ferrell have spoken out about their auditions in the past, and I feel as if they are almost always disaster stories. But Jones didn’t even get the position she wanted and yet her audition seemed to have gone well. Maybe she just doesn’t get nervous. Either way, it’s a great story.
Saturday Night Live returns at midseason on Saturday, January 16 at 11:30 p.m. ET. For more returning dates, head here.