Black Panther's Sterling K. Brown Brings Wakanda To Saturday Night Live
Black Panther star Sterling K. Brown returned to a different Wakanda last night on Saturday Night Live. Rather than reprising his role as N’Jobu, Brown acts as the great-great-grandfather of T’Challa, played by Chris Redd, who meets a few new family members in Djalia.
The sketch imagined a deleted scene from the record-breaking Marvel franchise where T’Challa’s visit to Djalia, the “astral realm of the ancestors,” now includes in-laws. The Black Panther meets his “royal bloodline stretching through all of time,” but as his great aunt, played by Leslie Jones, explains, the ancestral realm must now make room for “even those who married into it.”
Enter Kenan Thompson as the still-adjusting Uncle M’Butu. “Now I’m here in what I guess is heaven, but I have one question for y’all: Where’s the weed at?”
While T’Challa tries to seek wisdom from the elders, Thompson’s Uncle M’Butu continuously interrupts with his own anecdotes, including the story of how he got there: “You know how my old lady is one of them bald warrior women who guard the king? The other night, I suggested maybe she wear a wig, you know, just to be playful. I said, ‘Damn woman, I’m tired of making love to Michael Jordan.’ That’s the last thing I remember.”
While the other family members can take the form of the panther, M’Butu spends his time in the realm as a warthog fearing for his life. “They all turn to panthers, I turn a warthog again, and then they all start hunting me, man, because all they see is bacon!”
As T’Challa’s great-great-grandfather tries to impart sage advice on leadership, M’Butu either challenges that wisdom or simply tries to shove a frozen lion-meat burger in his face. “M’Butu, thank you. I’m so glad I get to spend eternity with you,” Brown reacts, completely deadpan.
Brown – whose middle name is Kathleen, according to his opening monologue – hosted SNL for the first time last night. The actor known for his deeply moving performances wasn’t afraid to take chances with sketch comedy. His best sketches included interpretations of his films Black Panther and This Is Us, the latter of which now includes Brown as a frightened and overwhelmed Ben Carson. “You’ll be laughing through the tears, except without the laughing,” says the parody ad. “So I guess just regular crying.”
Brown already has an Emmy for his portrayal of attorney Christopher Darden in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, but his stint on SNL proved that he’s a force to be reckon with even in comedy.