Jenny Slate says she wasn't fired from 'SNL' for cursing on live TV: 'I didn't do a good job'

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Jenny Slate speaks at a Netflix event on April 20 in Hollywood. (Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Netflix)

Jenny Slate would like you to know that — no matter what you’ve heard or read — she did not get fired from Saturday Night Live for saying a profanity on camera during her very first episode. She was fired, in 2010, after a single season because, as she tells it, she was bad at her job.

“By the way, everyone always thinks I got fired for saying f***k: I didn’t, that's not why I got fired,” Slate said in a new interview with InStyle. “I just didn’t belong there. I didn’t do a good job, I didn’t click. I have no idea how [SNL creator] Lorne [Michaels] felt about me. All I know is, it did’t work for me, and I got fired.”

Slate went on to co-write the short films and children’s books about the character Marcel the Shell and to appear in movies and TV shows such as Obvious Child, Parks and Recreation and Married. Now she’s written a collection of essays, Little Weirds, for adults that lands in bookstores on Nov. 5. The SNL situation was anything but the end of her career, but it’s still followed her around. When racist and homophobic comments that new cast member Shane Gillis made went viral, people cited Slate’s firing as proof he should be let go, too. (He eventually was.)

“I am a woman who has made so much of her own work, and I’ve had a variety of successes — some small, some personal, some public,” Slate said. “I’m a New York Times best-selling children’s author, all of this stuff that is so intentional and worthy, but people often want to frame my success as an ascent from one failure that was the decision of some man who didn’t understand me 10 years ago. I just wonder, if I were a man, would people be so obsessed with the fact that I said a swear?”

Slate, who’s now engaged to art curator Ben Shattuck, also briefly spoke on the subject of her 2017 relationship with Captain America star Chris Evans. It happened after the writer mentioned the “tabloid fodder” that resulted from their relationship.

“The past is the past, and I have learned to speak about the present because that is where I exist,” Slate said. “I’ve learned some very important lessons, but none of them involve me changing my personality or my faith in people.”

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