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Why Jay Pharoah was fired from SNL

In 2016, Jay Pharoah had an unexpected departure from Saturday Night Live after six years on the show, claiming that it puts people into boxes.

Jared Farrow, better known by his stage name, Jay Pharoah, is an American actor, impressionist and stand-up comedian. Pharoah joined Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 2010 as a featured player for the show’s thirty-sixth season.

He was described as the “breakout player” of the season by Bob Moynihan. Pharaoh made amazing impersonations of Barack Obama, Ben Carson, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Will Smith, Lil Wayne, and Denzel Washington, among many other celebrities. After six years on the show, he announced his departure to pursue other opportunities.

On 14 April 2017, the comedian opened up about getting fired on a radio interview with New York’s Hot 97. “You go where you’re appreciated,” he stated, adding, “They put people into boxes. Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do. I’m a little fiery too… I’m not a yes n***a.” He further expressed that he had multiple cast members telling him how talented he was and it was unfair that SNL was not fully utilising him.

He also expressed that he felt like SNL gave up on his Barack Obama character, even though he asked them to write more material for Obama during the election season. He claimed that SNL did not do any Obama sketches for over a year. Pharoah claimed that he has no regrets about how he handled everything with SNL, and that there is no bitterness between him and his former executive producer, Lorne Michaels. Looking back at SNL, he stated, “It definitely was a good experience and it was a stepping stone to other opportunities.”

It did not take long for Pharaoh to bounce back after SNL. In October 2017, Pharoah released a new comedy series, White Famous. The series is based on Jamie Foxx’s personal experience coming up in the business. The show aired on Showtime, but was canceled after one season. The comedian then made appearances on multiple shows, including Champaign ILL, A Million Little Things and Family Guy. His most recent project is The Mitchells vs. The Machines movie, where he voices Noah.


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