During an often-glorious 38-year run, “Saturday Night Live” has featured some accomplished comic players of color: Eddie Murphy, Tim Meadows, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson.
Is that enough diversity for a program that has come to define satire on American television?
The question has come up periodically since “SNL’s” earliest days. And it has come up again with the start of a new season, its 39th, last week. In another of its periodic resets of its ever-evolving cast, the show added six cast members this season — five of whom are white and male.
This development has elicited a rebuke of sorts from within. Jay Pharoah, who along with Thompson is one of two African Americans in the 16-member cast, told the Web site TheGrio this week that the NBC show should hire an African American woman. “They need to pay attention,” said Pharoah, who even promoted his own candidate, comedic actress Darmirra Brunson. “Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented. . . . And I believe they need to follow up with it like they said they were going to do last year.”