Dear Saturday Night Live:
I know other Asian Americans have criticized you for your continued lack of Asian representation in front of your cameras, but that’s not what I’m here to do today. It’s true your record in this department has been pretty spotty: though cast members Fred Armisen and Rob Schneider are part Asian, they’ve never been closely identified as “Asian” and you’ve only had two Asian hosts in 37 seasons—Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan—both back in 2000. But I’m cool with putting all of that aside for the moment.
Instead, I humbly offer one small suggestion that, while not the answer to this issue, could be a step in the right direction: Invite John Cho and Kal Penn to co-host the show together. Not only would this help to increase SNL’s diversity, but I think it would be a win-win for everyone involved.
Now, I understand that the lack of Asian hosts has more to do with the realities of the business than any sort of racism. You have to get big ratings to survive, and frankly, there aren’t many Asian performers who have the clout that a Tom Hanks or Ben Stiller has to attract those big audiences. But I think the combined talents of John Cho and Kal Penn will bring in the numbers you’ll need to make it worthwhile.
For one thing, their new film A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas opens on November 4. That franchise has a huge cult following and I suspect their following also fits perfectly with the main demographic for your show: stoners who are too high to go out on Saturday night.
With the timing and awareness of the new Harold and Kumar movie, everyone in America who likes to smoke out will be watching the episode and even better–they’ll be too wasted to find the remote and switch the channel even if the show sucks. I noticed on your upcoming schedule that no host has yet to be confirmed for either the October 29 or November 5 episodes—either date would be perfect to take advantage of the Harold and Kumar synergy.
You also have the added insurance of two hosts so if one of them sucks, you still have a good shot that the other can carry the show. ‘Cause I’ve seen episodes where the lone host sucked and it was not a pretty 1 ½ hours. At the least, two Asian guys have to be worth one Matt Damon, right?
And lest you mistakenly think that having an Asian host will negatively effect the ratings and a segment of the audience (i.e. in-bred racist hicks in the South) will not tune in, Let me remind you that one of the highest-rated episodes in ALL of SNL’s history was when Jackie Chan hosted on May 20, 2000. That show received a 7.3 audience share. Compare that with the Justin Timberlake-hosted episode from this past May, which was considered one of the highest-rated in recent years. That outing “only” netted a 7.0 share.
Now that I’ve addressed your business concerns, let me turn to the artistic ones. Having both John and Kal co-host will definitely open up your creative options because between these two guys, you’ve pretty much got everything covered. You can do ethnic jokes, you can do stoner jokes, you can do 3-D jokes, you can do Star Trek jokes, you can do political jokes (remember Kal worked for the Obama administration), you can do musical comedy (John fronts his own band)—the possibilities are endless. Hell, you can finally do sketches like this with actual Asian people in them:
But here’s the best creative reason to have these guys host: Neil Patrick Harris can make a cameo appearance!
Yup, I’m sure John and Kal’s Harold and Kumar co-star will be game to come on the show and do his thing to help promote his movie. And we all know that nobody does his thing better than NPH does his thing.
Finally, let me just add this—maybe you think I’m unfairly picking on your show when there are plenty of other programs that have way more problems in this area (I’m looking at you, 2 Broke Girls), but I’m doing so because there’s no other comedy show on the air that carries the weight that SNL does.
Sure, people criticize you for not being funny, but you’ve weathered that sort of negativity before and been fine and, as your recent Melissa McCarthy episode proved, you can still be hilarious. But regardless of what people may say, SNL is an institution unlike any other. Just being around for 37 years is a feat in itself, but you’ve had a profound impact not only on comedy, but all of pop culture in a way that very few TV shows have. You’re still the gold standard and to be a part of your show is to be a part of something special and historic. And it’s time that we saw more people who look like us on your stage—it could be John or Kal. But it could just as easily be Ken Jeong with musical guests Far East Movement for many of the same reasons I mentioned above (I’m sure NPH would be happy to make a cameo if Ken were hosting too).
I know there are some folks who work at SNL—both in front of and behind the camera—who read our blog so I want to thank you for doing so and considering my humble suggestion. And if my arguments haven’t swayed you yet, think of all the good Harold and Kumar-quality weed there would be backstage.