The creator and star of ABC’s smash sitcom “Abbott Elementary” made her “SNL” debut on Saturday, peppering her opening monologue with jokes about her burgeoning fame (the “friend’s” garden she visited? Oprah Winfrey’s.) and shoutouts to teachers, including her mother, a strong influence in the creation of “Abbott.”
Sporting a stylish navy pantsuit, Brunson offered an explanation for the uninitiated about her hit “non-streaming” show.
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“It’s like ‘Friends,’ except instead of it being about a group of friends, it’s about a group of teachers. Instead of New York, it’s Philadelphia. And instead of not having Black people, it does!” Brunson said.
The Philadelphia native joked that the downside of playing idealistic second-grade teacher Janine Teagues is that people expect her to act like her “good and wholesome” character all the time.
“I’m the opposite,” Brunson said. “I’m not a filthy whore, but I need to live my life without someone recording me going, ‘Damn, Miss Teagues is out here getting wasted at Universal Studios.’ ”
Brunson, 33, shared that because of her increasing visibility, she often can’t tell her mom, former kindergarten teacher Norma Jean Brunson, about her new circle of friends.
“I told her I was going out to dinner, but not (with) who, because it was with this guy,” Brunson said, as a video of her with former President Barack Obama popped up.
In the clip, Obama praised Brunson, but also directed his admiration to Brunson’s mother. “We’re really proud of you, because you are a teacher – the most important job there is.”
Brunson closed her monologue on the NBC show with a plea to appreciate teachers.
“Please remember how important teachers are,” she said. “Acknowledge the work they do every day and for the love of God, play them the money they deserve.”
A veteran of HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and the Instagram meme favorite, “The Girl Who’s Never Been on a Nice Date,” Brunson easily slid into sketches as a contestant on “Couple Goals,” a game show takeoff of “The Newlywed Game”; as a dreadlocked cocaine dealer (“My stuff is so white, it’s like Gwyneth Paltrow skiing in Utah”); and as feisty driver embroiled in a road rage standoff.
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