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Jay Pharoah Opens Up About Leaving SNL: “You Go Where You’re Appreciated”

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Actor Jay Pharoah performs on stage at Urban Arts Partnership at the 15th annual The 24 Hour Plays On Broadway after party at BB King on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Urban Arts Partnership)

Yesterday, comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharaoh spoke about his firing from the show, following its last season. Speaking with some degree of bitterness and irritation to Hot 97, the 29-year-old Pharaoh said: “You go where you’re appreciated…you [had] multiple people on the cast being like…’They don’t use you and it’s making us feel bad. You’re a talent.'”

Pharoah explained that he regularly had disagreements with writers and directors on set. (“I’m fiery–I’m not a ‘yes n*gga.'”) As an example, Pharoah mentioned an occasion in which he refused to put on a dress for a skit. He expressed annoyance about his Obama character being phased out during the last year and a half he was on the show, and claimed that they “gave up.” He also talked about being ambivalent that he’d been pigeonholed as an impressions specialist.

Pharoah also revealed that he almost lost his job in 2013 after speaking up in favor of hiring black female comedians on SNL in 2013 in an interview with The Grio. He later argued that “we got Leslie Jones” largely because of his efforts.

He did say, however improbably, that he still “like[s]” Lorne Michaels and “respect[s] the hell out of him.” He also defended the recent Trump parodies, claiming that Trump “grabbing people by the cooter” is funny.

Watch the full interview below.