In this edition of Cecily Strong is amazing and underrated, her “Clown Abortion” segment on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. Blah, blah, blah there are some people who go on Twitter or Reddit or whatever every week to bitch the same basic bitch bitch: SNL isn’t funny anymore and hasn’t been funny since the 70s, or the 80s, or the 90s, or the 2000s. And in 20 years a new generation of people will be saying that SNL hasn’t been funny since the 2010s and the 2020s, and the fact of the matter is, maybe it isn’t funny every week, and sometimes for weeks on end – but live television is an art form, and SNL is keeping it going, and while they get it wrong a lot, they do somehow find great performers, multiple great performers per generation. Cecily Strong is a great performer, and she doesn’t get the credit nearly as often as she deserves. The f-cker of it this week is that she’s getting the credit she deserves for something she doesn’t want to talk about anymore, goddamn it, but this is where we are now; in 2021 people still think they can tell a woman what she can and can’t do with her body. So, Cecily shared what she did with her body, on the biggest platform, dressed in a f-cking clown suit.
Goober the Clown— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) November 7, 2021
(who had an abortion when she was 23) pic.twitter.com/1rFv6UrPGu
I’m not a comedy scholar, so I’m not here to break down the nuts and bolts of why this was good comedy and how precisely each line was crafted to drive home the point, with humour and discomfort and defiance and vulnerability. What I can say, as someone, like Cecily, who had an abortion – not the day before my 23rd birthday but coincidentally when I was 22 years old – is that I felt her frustration and her fury and my god did I feel her exasperation. It is exasperating! On so many levels! It is exasperating having to share with the world – on Weekend Update in a f-cking clown suit! – a private decision she made for herself. It is exasperating to do it because so many women (one in three, as she explains) don’t feel like they can because there is still so much shame around it, because women are made to feel ashamed… for something that they Do Not Regret. My favourite of Cecily’s many great lines?
“We kept this secret for so long despite being so grateful and happy.”
There. That’s it. You know why I can’t quite remember when I had an abortion? Because it wasn’t a big deal for me. It wasn’t a big cataclysmic event. It wasn’t something I agonised over. I was grateful I could do it. I was happy and I am happy that I did it. As Cecily makes clear, she “wouldn’t be a clown on TV here today if not for the abortion [she] had the day before [her] 23rd birthday”. In other words, if not for abortion, she wouldn’t have been able to achieve her dreams. If not for abortion, I wouldn’t have achieved mine either.
So, yeah, it is exasperating being told that the choice so many women make to achieve their dreams is this ugly, shameful thing…when they actually feel the opposite. It is exasperating that because of this bullsh-t law in Texas, so many dreams could be thwarted, so much potential lost. It is exasperating for Cecily, and other women coming forward sharing their abortion stories, and trying to fight this bullsh-t law in Texas, that there is a very real, terrifying threat in America that will undermine our reproductive rights, our human rights. I say “our” because while I am not American, this issue has no borders. No matter my citizenship, it matters to me, and I hope it matters to you, that there are women who are being forced into dangerous situations because people keep insisting that they know better than she does what she should do with her body.
That’s why Cecily Strong had to raise her Clown Signal, a Saturday night call for solidarity with all the other clowns, and future clowns, so that they might feel less alone. So that our collective clowning might be normalised, so that our right to clown might continue.