Sasheer Zamata

Comedy for Good

Former SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata on comedy and politics, and performing at the Dallas Comedy Festival.

published Friday, March 30, 2018

Photo: Courtesy Sasheer Zamata
Sasheer Zamata

DallasSasheer Zamata will be co-headlining, along with Chicago Improv troupe 3Peat, this year’s Dallas Comedy Festival, and that’s quite a get for the fest.

Looking over the history of DCF headliners, Zamata ranks up there with Keegan-Michael Key, Lauren Lapkus, and TJ & Dave in terms of Big Names To Play At Dallas Comedy Festival, but Key and Lapkus performed as part of troupes, and of course TJ and Dave is a troupe. Zamata, I would argue, is the biggest solo act they’ve nabbed.

Of course, Zamata is best known for her work on Saturday Night Live, where she impersonated an array of folks from Michelle Obama to Nicky Minaj.

She debuted on the show in 2014, when an outcry over the paucity of women of color on the show was gaining momentum, but it’s important to note she was already waist-deep in the SNL hiring process when the campaign caught national attention; she was hired because she is funny, not as an act of appeasement.

She has stayed busy and brilliant since her departure from the show. Her 2017 stand-up special, Pizza Mind, is available on Amazon and she works extensively as a celebrity ambassador with ACLU and its Women’s Rights Project.

Here’s what Zamata had to say to TheaterJones.

On using comedy to advance important political causes:

I think comedy can put people at ease. People are more likely to listen to a different opinion if they know there's going to be a punchline at the end of it. So I think it's good when organizations like the ACLU use comedy to highlight issues they're working on to reach an audience that may not have been willing to learn about it before.

On whether she considers improv, sketch, or stand-up her true love:

That's hard to answer because I love them for different reasons. I love the collaborative nature of sketch and improv, and especially with improv. I like how a group of people with different thoughts and experiences can merge together in the moment to create a show, it's almost like magic. And I love stand up because it's just me. I can go anywhere and do it and I don't need props, or costumes, or other performers, I can just go up and speak and have an immediate connection with the audience, and that's exciting to me.

On working a festival vs. doing a regular set:

It seems like the crowds at comedy festivals are true comedy fans. They want to see as much comedy as possible while it's in town so there's a bit more electricity in the audience than on standard night in a club.

Her shows at DCH (Friday at 9, and a party she’s hosting Saturday at 10:30) are both sold out.


» Read our preview of the Dallas Comedy Festival here

» For more info on schedules and tickets, click here

» Look for daily reports on DCF on Thanks For Reading

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Comedy for Good
Former SNL cast member Sasheer Zamata on comedy and politics, and performing at the Dallas Comedy Festival.
by Kevin Beane

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