Ever since it was announced that Jewish comic Sarah Sherman (also known by her stage name Sarah Squirm) was joining the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” I’ve been patient. As a trained, veteran “SNL” watcher, I know that featured players like Sarah aren’t often given the same stage time as the main cast. Through the first five episodes of Season 47, I’ve laughed. I’ve even guffawed a few times. But mostly I’ve been waiting — waiting for Sarah’s opportunity to shine.
This past Saturday, my patience paid off. In her Weekend Update debut, Sarah stole the show — and the audience’s hearts.
What makes this bit so great, in my view, is that long-time Squirmers or Squirmheads (two fan names I just now made up) will recognize it as authentically Sarah. From her look, the bright colors and wacky patterns, to her boisterous and Larry David-esque delivery, Sarah was in no way toned down for a show that is definitely more mainstream than her comedic sensibility. And neither was the content of her Weekend Update appearance. For a comic with a niche and alternative persona like Sarah has, it’s a logical comedy choice for her to have a list of feedback, questions and roasts for “Saturday Night Live” co-head writer (and comedian straight out of the Ivy League) Colin Jost. With a knowing smirk and lovable kookiness, Sarah made it easy for me, along with the rest of the audience, to root for her to “say something on live air that could ruin [her] life and [Colin’s].”
The cherry on top, of course, was the Jewishness of it all. Not only was Sarah’s line of questioning subversive and disruptive, it was also extremely Talmudic, reminiscent of both rabbinic scholars dissecting why things are the way they are, and also the part of Jewish culture which allows for loud and plentiful griping. And of course, the funniest joke in the segment was Sarah’s back and forth with Colin about the amount of Jews on “Saturday Night Live.” It started with Sarah’s last question, “Why aren’t there any Jews on this show?!” to which Colin remarked that “SNL” does have a lot of Jewish people on the show, including Sarah. This led to the hard-hitting, straight-to-camera punchline, “In other news, local wet blanket Colin Jost is keeping track of the amount of Jews at ‘SNL.’ He’s making a list, and he’s checking it twice.”
Whether she goes on to do more sketches or hone more Pete Davidson-style Weekend Update bits, last week’s segment drives home that Sarah Sherman has a lot of star-power potential at “Saturday Night Live.” I, for one, cannot wait to see what else she does in Studio 8H.