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Jay Pharoah had an unexpected exit from Saturday Night Live last summer after spending four seasons with the show.
In a radio interview with New York’s Hot 97 this week, the comedian opened up about getting fired.
“You go where you’re appreciated,” Pharoah said, adding that he had multiple people on the cast telling him he was talented and it was unfair SNL wasn’t using him to his full advantage.
“They put people into boxes,” said the comedian, adding that he felt the show put him into an “impression box.”
“Whatever they want you to do, they expect you to do,” said Pharoah. He said he’s “fiery” and was unafraid to speak up. “I’m not a ‘yes n—.’ That’s not me.”
The comedian played Barack Obama on the show and said he feels like SNL “gave up” on the character, even though he asked them to write more material for Obama as election season began.
“If you really noticed, for the last year and a half, they didn’t do any Obama sketches,” said Pharoah.
He also said he refused to wear a dress and that he voiced his opinion about the lack of black comedians on the show. He took credit for the hiring of Leslie Jones and Sasheer Zamata.
“I am the reason it happened,” said Pharoah. He said that in the process of speaking up “I almost freaking lost my job.”
Regardless, he “respects the hell” out of Lorne Michaels. He slipped into a Chris Rock impression and said, “I met Lorne Michaels, and I ain’t been broke ever since.”
The comedian also spoke about the late Charlie Murphy. He remembered the advice Murphy gave him, saying Murphy said, “Don’t be afraid to try shit” and “Always bring God with you.”
“When you get on stage carry him with you because you can’t do a performance without him,” Pharoah remembers Eddie Murphy’s brother telling him.
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