Comedian Leslie Jones returned to TV as guest host of The Daily Show Tuesday, bringing her outrageous sense of humor to controversy over Boston’s new Martin Luther King Jr. statue.
Jones, formerly a star of Saturday Night Live and the failed reboot of Ghostbusters, tackled the statue titled The Embrace as she begins guest hosting the show for the week in the wake of Trevor Noah‘s departure.
Many have mocked the statue’s appearance, with Jones taking a new angle saying that the statue resembled oral sex.
‘They are celebrating you in Boston right now,’ Jones exclaimed, referencing people who have participated in the activity.
Comedian Leslie Jones returned to TV as guest host of The Daily Show Tuesday, bringing her outrageous sense of humor to controversy over Boston’s new Martin Luther King Jr. statue
Jones then pivoted to the backlash against the statue, which has included the likes of everyone from right wing pundits to Coretta Scott King’s cousin, saying she was speaking only to black audience members as King was ‘our civil rights icon.’
‘Okay, black people, what the f**k we gonna do? We gotta talk about this, cause you know it’s messed up when black people and the Proud Boys hate the same statue,’ she said.
She then became more contemplative, suggesting the statue might age well, acknowledging that people didn’t like the Eiffel Tower when it was unveiled.
‘Maybe it’s just a matter of time, in time we will see this statue for what it truly is,’ she joked.
She then returned to it with correspondent Dulcé Sloan, who said that designers never get Martin Luther King’s statue correct, specifically referring to the one in Washington DC, before turning to address ‘white people.’
‘The man literally marched for freedom and his statue don’t have no legs! Say what you will about them goofy a** conservatives, but they know how to make a statue. It’s a white dude on a horse, it’s always a white dude on a horse, there’s no confusion.’
‘That’s what the liberals need to do, make a statue of MLK in his suit on a horse.’
When Jones asked Sloan if King even had a horse, Sloan responded: ‘I don’t know and neither do y’all. So put him on a horse, put him on a throne, hell, put him in Joe Biden’s Corvette! At least we would know who it was.’
Jones then pivoted to the backlash against the statue, which has included the likes of everyone from right wing pundits to Coretta Scott King’s cousin, saying she was speaking only to black audience members as King was ‘our civil rights icon’
The Embrace was unveiled in Boston Friday ahead of Martin Luther King Day
The sculpture was inspired by a hug shared by Dr. King and his wife Coretta when he learned he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize
Dulcé Sloan, who said that designers never get Martin Luther King’s statue correct, specifically referring to the memorial to King in Washington DC
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hugs his wife Coretta after learning he’d been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 1964
The sculpture was inspired by a photograph of the couple hugging in 1964 after learning that Dr. King Jr. had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Hank Willis Thomas, the Brooklyn-based artist behind it, said he wanted to create a sculpture dedicated to love and not war, and that the image symbolized the strength of the iconic couple’s marriage. Members of the King family were there to watch the sculpture’s unveiling in Boston yesterday.
But while the idea behind the piece is undeniably moving, the final result fell flat for many critics – not to mention Coretta’s cousin.
Former Guardian art critic Waldemar Januszczak said the 19-ton sculpture was a ‘particularly bad monument to Martin Luther King’ while others labeled it ‘awful’ and a ‘waste of money’.
Many asked why the artist chose to depict the couple’s arms and shoulders but not their heads or faces, and said it was hard to ‘wrap the brain around’.
‘Were they really so scared to commission a full figure naturalistic likeness?’ asked one critic.
‘A great shame, perhaps the concept was far better than the execution…it just looks… awful!’
Unimpressed: The sculpture fell flat for many who asked why the artist removed the couple’s heads
Artists and art critics were similarly unimpressed with the sculpture
‘This is a sculpture that doesn’t translate well in a photo; a single angle view doesn’t capture it.
‘Amazing idea, beautiful concept, but hard to wrap the brain around,’ said another.
According to an interview with the artist by The New York Times, the sculpture was paid for in part by Embrace Boston – a part of The Boston Foundation.
The charity ‘works toward racial and economic justice’, according to the Times’ report.
It ‘helped provide resources and $10.5 million in funds’ which includes a ‘maintenance fund’ for the sculpture and the park in which it sits.
Artist Hank Willis Thomas at the unveiling yesterday. He said he wanted to create a sculpture dedicated to ‘love’ not war
Jones is the first guest host in the The Daily Show’s post-Trevor Noah era after the South African comic stepped down in December.
Future guest hosts include comedians Sarah Silverman, DL Hughley, Wanda Sykes and former Senator Al Franken.
Noah stunned colleagues when he announced his departure from the show during a taping in front of a studio audience, according to a new report.
Noah, who has hosted the Comedy Central program for seven years, announced his intention to depart during taping for the September 29 episode, taking the audience and the show’s staff by surprise.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Monday, showrunner Jen Flanz said she and head writer Zhubin Parang were sitting together at a desk just off camera when Noah delivered the news to the camera.
‘He starts talking and talking, and I look at Zhubin like, ‘What is he doing? We’re going to have to edit this,’ recalled Flanz.
Flanz, who has been with the Daily Show since Craig Kilborn was host in the late 90s, said that as they realized what was happening, she and Parang ‘lost all feeling in our bodies.’
‘Did you know?’ Parang whispered to her, and she replied, ‘Does it look like I knew?’
In September, Noah broke the news to his audience that he was ending his stint at the program, telling viewers, ‘There’s another part of my life that I want to carry on exploring’
Showrunner Jen Flanz (left) said she and head writer Zhubin Parang (right) were sitting together at a desk just off camera when Noah delivered the news to the camera
Noah explained to THR that he decided to announce his departure in front of the audience because it was the best way to let everyone at the show know about his decision at the same time.
‘Part of the reason I did it that way is because I didn’t want anybody to be the person who then tells somebody else, who then tells somebody else, who then tells somebody else,’ said Noah.
‘And this is where we create the thing. [The show] is where we’re together, our space, and so for me, it felt like the most natural way to tell everybody at the same time,’ he told the outlet.
Noah said in the new interview that the strains of producing the show during the pandemic had begun to weigh on him, saying he was ready for a new chapter in life.
‘Maybe this comes with not being raised in America, but I believe that everything should end,’ he said.
‘A lot of American business and American media is just like, ‘Keep it going as long as possible,’ but I think it’s healthy for things to end when they’re still in a good place. I want to leave before I’m burnt out, because there are many other things I’d like to do,’ added Noah.
Noah’s final episode with The Daily Show aired on December 8, and the comedian plans to quickly launch his next act with a 28-city stand-up comedy tour.