How I’d Fix Saturday Night Live’s Jay Pharoah Problem
This brings us to Jay Pharoah and improving his trajectory at Studio 8H. He has been dealt a tough hand so far on the show - a short, dorky Latino guy is playing our tall, stoic, black, U.S. President and a black George Costanza (Kenan Thompson) is grabbing all the scenes that require a man of color. This just doesn’t seem quite right for the man of a 1,000 celebrity voices. It is time for youth to be served at Saturday Night Live.
I do have original suggestions, so stand by as the guy with zero comedic writing credentials bounces a few ideas off the wall for my boy Jay Pharoah.
Team- I operate under the assumption I will never write for Saturday Night Live. I give you FULL permission to steal the following ideas for Jay Pharoah and count them as your own. I ask for nothing in return. (Not legally binding on my behalf.)
1. Tiger Woods Finally Gets His Due
Back to Tiger. It is time for SNL to reap redemption on missed Tiger opportunities when Thompson had the role. A Woods sketch could turn down one of these two roads.
(This sketch is racier, more relatable to the Tiger Woods saga, and right up SNL’s alley the past few years)
Scene: Tiger is hosting the classic SNL “call in show” from his home. An attractive female assistant is present. (Nasim Predrad!)
(Yes, I intend this to be a clear rip off of Tim Meadow’s “The Ladies Man”- it’s the SNL way.)
Callers ask for basic golf tips and instructions while Tiger consistently responds with sexually innuendoed, golf-related responses.
Tiger (Pharoah): “It’s my opinion you’re not grasping the shaft with enough pressure during your thrust, maybe try moving your balls into better position for maximum explosion” (smile, winks as he walks over to Pedrad)
“There’s nothing I love more than showing a young, impressionable golfer how to properly blast your shot closer to the hole. I’ve been working with…what’s your name again?”
“Right, Cheyenne. I’ve been working with Cheyenne here for weeks on proper positioning. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your body. Don’t be afraid to try new, crazy, unorthodox things every now and again. Doing the same thing every day just isn’t for me. Gotta mix it up! I carry a bag of tricks while working manicured lawns!”
Demonstrations with his assistant ensue, etc.
Golfers use sticks and balls people! Grab that low-hanging fruit!
The other thing we learned throughout the Tiger ordeal is that he apparently has a massive temper to match his gigantic ego.
Scene: Tiger is hosting a late-night themed talk show on The Golf Channel.
Guests prod him on his recent ineffectiveness, the future brilliance of Rory McIlroy, the importance of trust and honesty in marriage, Buddist principles, and other similar topics. Tiger attempts, uncomfortably, to steer all conversations away from these matters. Scenes end with massive arguments and blow-ups. Running theme is Tiger’s inability to control his temper. An Andy Richter-like sidekick/caddie (Taran Killam) plays second fiddle on the couch. To Tiger’s dismay Killam joins guests in grilling Woods and this leads to an ultimate implosion on-set. (Again, some might get the 1990′s Jim Breuer reference.) First guest has to be former caddie Steve Williams.
2. ”BARACK OBAMA FLASHBACK AND/OR DREAM SEQUENCE”
Armisen remains in place as Obama in 2011 or “Current Obama”. Scenes range from general White House Press conferences, 2012 campaign trail features, and casual conversations with prominent cabinet members.
Dialogue/speeches consist of his perceived “anti-establishment” or “urban credibility” with voters. Think Barack at a campaign stop in rural Alabama telling the crowd how he’s the only candidate who can “truly understand your plight” or speaking on his opponent’s “lack of common man perspective”. It concludes with an ironic/uncomfortable smile on Armisen’s face as the screen fades to black.
“Flashback” sequence emerges with Pharoah as “Young Obama”. These can range from early childhood through college. Throw on a flat top with a fade and all he needs to do is nail his impersonation. Here’s part of Pharoah’s act tailor-made for this very sketch.
The scene will center on an extremely suburban, elitist, borderline dorky image. Hawaiian shirts are a must and teasing from cohorts like Thompson a regular theme. The sketch would attempt to portray Obama as a scrawny, nerd or college hustler. Anything the opposite of his public persona;
(Editor’s note: I fully accept that without a script this idea takes some serious imagination, It does solve multiple problems: Armisen keeps the Barack he’s earned, Pharoah gives it a test drive for the assumed 2012 departure of Armisen, and it’s a completely new and fresh take on the standard SNL presidential features. Also, it can be done live, which I love.)
I’m not an established comedy writer, but these premises certainly play better to a broader audience than some of the stuff thrown out at least once a week. Take a chance and showcase this young talent.
The final piece of the puzzle would be to create a wildly popular, completely original character. Sorry Jay, but I can’t help you here. The future of the show and your career depend on this aspect of your act. You’ve definitely shown some promise and I think it’s inevitable.
Eddie Murphy had Buckwheat, Chris Rock-Onski, Meadows-Ladies Man, Tracy Morgan-Brian Fellows, and Thompson’s DeAndre Cole are the standards set by your SNL forefathers. I have faith you can not only find your original voice, but that it will be something to truly remember.
(Personally, I’d start with an alter-ego to LeBron James.)
In summation, I remain extremely excited about the 2011/12 season for Saturday Night Live. It is a male dominated cast with A LOT of talent and a great mix of personalities and original characters. I am ecstatic to stand by as the Jay Pharoah hype machine starts revving into overdrive and the writing staff and Jay begin to harness all his talent on the stage for our viewing pleasure.
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