Making people laugh is serious business.
Talking about success in the industry, Helms says, “Well, it’s a lot of the social stuff. Suddenly you’re invited to things that are overwhelming. People don’t realize celebrities also get starstruck and feel awkward at times. I certainly still do, sometimes.”
For Platt, dealing with being in the spotlight is something he’s dealt with since childhood.
“I started working in musical theatre when I was nine, so my whole life was pointed toward the experience that I ended up having at 23, which was doing Dear Evan Hansen — getting to originate a role and a Tony Award and all that stuff,” he says. “And there was a real scariness in reaching that so quickly because I felt like, Well, now is everybody done with me? Is that all I have to offer?“
Stars of Global’s “Saturday Night Live” Davidson and Redd talk about their futures with the show and whether they could match Kenan Thompson’s 18-season run.
“I would never do 18 seasons,” Redd says, laughing.
“Yeah, I’m good,” Davidson agrees. “I’m surprised I made it to seven. I’m ready to hang up the jersey. Kenan’s like f**kin’ Karl Malone out there.”
Redd says, “He’s a legend for it and I think he can have that marker. Like, I’m definitely having a good time, it’s better than the first few years. I mean, I had a good first year and then with my second year it was kind of wild. But I don’t know how anybody does 18 years. It’s boot camp.”
The actors also discuss serious issues of representation and politics through the lens of comedy.
“Just being Black in America on TV forces you to relate to that,” Redd says. “I have always stood up and protested injustices. And in my work, especially my standup, I like to speak to some of that. But I also feel like part of our freedom is to be able to just create without having to represent something every single time you do it. So, it’s walking that line of representing your people and speaking to the culture but also having the freedom to just create without being bound to an injustice every time. Because sometimes I just got a d**k joke.”
Morris adds, “Well, ‘New Girl’ was just silly, that’s what it was. I mean, it was cool and fun and there are subject matters that we’d touch on, but there’s only so much you can do in a 22-minute show. I had a cat on the show named Furguson and I’m a Black dude who plays a police officer and, when the incident in Ferguson happened, I was getting all these tweets, like, ‘Yo, how does it feel to play a Black cop with a cat named Furguson?’ And I’d be like, ‘That’s clever as s**t, but stop asking me that.’”
He continues, “I did want to address it though, so I wrote an episode about it — and then I wanted to get more mileage out of that, but you can’t really do that on such a happy, happy show. So, when I was done, I wanted to do something that felt more authentic to some of the things that I had been through and friends of mine had been through and then ‘Woke’ came along. It’s about a nerdy Black dude who doesn’t think racism is an issue. He doesn’t see it, he just wants to draw cartoons and become successful and keep his head down, and then the police rough him up a bit, he has a bit of PTSD and he starts seeing things [inanimate objects that come to life]. I wanted to be a part of something with more stakes, more weight to it, but also can poke fun at it. I mean, I have a racist marker that’s played by J.B. Smoove. How f**kin’ ridiculous can you get?”