'Saturday Night Live' Hiring Rumor: Finally, a New Black Comedian?

When we reported earlier in the week that Saturday Night Live was on the verge of hiring three new cast members, we were puzzled by the fact that they were all, essentially, young white kids. The current cast only has one black member (Keenan Thompson), and the lack of diversity means—among other things—that the half-Latino Fred Armisen has been playing President Obama in blackface.

But now Sean McCarthy at the Comic's Comic blog—which also broke the news about the hiring of Vanessa Bayer, Paul Brittain, and Taran Killam—is reporting that producer Lorne Michaels is rumored to be signing a fourth new cast member, black comedian Jay Pharoah:

The Comic's Comic has learned that Jay Pharoah, a young stand-up comedian from Virginia's Tidewater who has a full arsenal of impersonations—including one of President Barack Obama (and yes, he'd likely do it instead of Fred Armisen!)—is just about a done deal to become the fourth new cast member to join the on-air ranks when SNL's 36th season begins on Sept. 25, 2010.

Pharaoh flew in to NYC twice in August for screen tests and meetings with Lorne.

Pharoah has toured in the clubs with Charlie Murphy, and this spring, he performed in character at BET's "Spring Bling."

So the hiring of Pharoah would address the current cast's lack of diversity (yet still doesn't answer the question of who's going to Oprah!), but there's still one more lingering mystery. Assuming Michaels does hire all the rumored actors, why does SNL need four people to replace one departing Will Forte?

Read more about that question in our post analyzing SNL's new hires earlier this week.

Read the full story on Pharoah's casting at Comic's Comic.

Below is video of his Obama impression:



Here he is spoofing Jay-Z, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith:

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Kevin Fallon is a reporter for the Daily Beast. He's a former entertainment editor at TheWeek.com and former writer and producer for The Atlantic's entertainment channel.

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