Jay Pharoah Talks Getting Fired from ‘SNL’ and the Advice He Got from Charlie Murphy

jay_pharoahSaturday Night Live alum Jay Pharoah stopped by New York radio station HOT 97 for an interview yesterday, and in addition to talking about his upcoming Showtime comedy White Famous — which Pharoah said will film this summer and hopefully debut in the late fall or early winter — he also opened up about getting fired from SNL last year and his frustrating experience as a cast member. While Pharoah says he has nothing but respect for Lorne Michaels, he said he feels like the show “gave up” on his Barack Obama impression and kept him in an “impression box” despite his view — as well as his fellow cast members’ view — that he had talent beyond celebrity impressions that the show wasn’t putting to use. “You go where you’re appreciated, you know what I mean?” Pharoah said. “I think they put people into boxes, and whatever they want you to do they expect you to do.”

He also addressed the comments he made in 2013 where he publicly called out SNL for not hiring any black women, and even though Pharoah’s actions resulted in the show hiring Sasheer Zamata, Leslie Jones, and writer LaKendra Tookes, Pharoah revealed that his comments almost got him fired from the show at the time: “I think me speaking up — they were ready to get rid of me in 2013 in September when I spoke up,” he said. “When I said what I said and it got on The Grio and it went viral, I almost freakin’ lost my job.”

Later in the interview, Pharoah spoke about Charlie Murphy and the comedy advice he gave to Pharoah when he was younger: “He said ‘Don’t be afraid to try shit, and always bring God with you onstage,'” Pharoah said. “He said ‘Without you wouldn’t be here, and when you get onstage, carry him with you, because you can’t do the performance without God.'”

Watch the full interview below:

From Our Partners