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Leslie Jones Recalls The Fight She And Chris Rock Had Over Her ‘SNL’ Audition

The comedian also opened up to Howard Stern about bossing Lorne Michaels around at her “Saturday Night Live” tryout.

Leslie Jones didn’t care about working for “Saturday Night Live,” which may be precisely why she got hired.

The former “SNL” cast member and “Time Machine” comedian told Howard Stern on Thursday that she “didn’t come to get a job” when she stepped on stage to try out for a writing gig at the sketch comedy institution. She only went to the audition on the chance that it could lead to professional opportunities elsewhere.

“I literally went to tell them how dope I was and was going to tell them, ‘No,’” Jones said, describing her mentality at the time.

But she probably also felt obligated to go because Chris Rock got her the audition.

“He saw me at the Comedy Store one late night doing a spot and he was like, ‘Yup, she’s next level, she’s ready,’” Jones recalled.

She said that after Rock saw her perform, he jotted her name down in his “funny people book” and then told “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels about her over dinner one night. Following that dinner, Rock called Jones to tell her that someone from “SNL” would be contacting her for an audition.

Jones completely freaked out.

Leslie Jones and Chris Rock attend a game between the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors at Madison Square Garden
Leslie Jones and Chris Rock attend a game between the New York Knicks and the Golden State Warriors at Madison Square Garden in 2018.

“I was like, ‘Why the fuck would you do that? I’m not a sketch [writer], what the fuck, Chris? I don’t do that shit. ... I’m a fucking standup,’” Jones said. “And he said, ‘Shut the fuck up! Go out there and do standup ― I don’t want to hear this shit!’ And he hung up,” she added.

With her zero-F’s attitude on the day of the audition, Jones told Stern that she did not have time for Michaels’ notoriously aloof behavior in which he sits in the back, “in the dark, ya know, in the shadows” of the theater while performers make their pitch.

Jones explained that as soon as she started walking toward the stage, she immediately felt at home.

“I thought to myself, ‘Oh! This is the Comedy Store at 2 o’clock at night! Hell yeah, I’m about to rip this motherfucker!’” she said. “So I got on stage and there was empty chairs in the front, and I was like, ‘Nuh-uh, that’s not how I work. Let’s go, everybody move to the front! I need that fucking energy!’ And everybody moved up to the front. And why not?”

When Stern asked if she’d done that out of insecurity, Jones made it clear she was anything but nervous.

“I could give two fucks and shit,” she said. “They moved. They did what they had to do and I started my act.”

Jones got the job and was quickly promoted to the cast in 2014, becoming at age 47 the oldest cast member the show had ever hired, according to The Washington Post. She earned three Emmy nominations for her performances on “SNL.” By the time Jones left the show in 2019, she had also grown close with Michaels, who she said at the time had changed her life “in so many ways.”

“Thank you for being my mentor and confidant and for always having my back,” she said in a series of tweets this past September. “You not only have my loyalty but you have my heart too! You have shown me skills I never imagined I had. I leave a better performer because of you.”

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