Live from Milton, it’s SNL’s Sasheer Zamata

Sasheer Zamata knows she’ll have her work cut out for her in the next few months.

The “Saturday Night Live” cast member will return for her third full season on the legendary late-night comedy show — although this year will be a bit different.

Along with losing cast members Taran Killiam, Jay Pharoah and Jon Rudnitsky, “SNL” will be cutting 30 percent of its commercials, allowing more time for more content.

“It will be exhausting I’m sure. It’s a lot to do every week and will mean more time at work and less time at home,” she said Tuesday afternoon by phone.

Best Bets logo -NEWSo how will she prepare for it? By heading out on the road to do standup comedy of course.

A mini-tour that has her performing seven shows in nine days stops Tuesday at The Milton Theatre. She will headline a night of laughs with local comedians Tom Sherman and Billy Peden and Philadelphia’s LaTice Klapa starting at 8:30 p.m.

The increased workload isn’t all bad. Doing standup and having more time with the show will allow her to get out what she’s been thinking about all summer.

“Whenever we’re off, things come to mind and then I think ‘Aww man.’ We can’t immediately talk about it when things happen. I have a hard time turning that part of my brain off. Now we’ll have more time to take advantage of it all,” she said.

It will be especially nice as the show heads into the homestretch of the presidential campaign.

“Saturday Night Live” cast member Sasheer Zamata headlines a night of standup comedy Tuesday at The Milton Theatre. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. with a limited amount of tickets still available. (Submitted photo/Luke Fontana)

“Saturday Night Live” cast member Sasheer Zamata headlines a night of standup comedy Tuesday at The Milton Theatre. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. with a limited amount of tickets still available. (Submitted photo/Luke Fontana)

“The show always gets a lot of attention in a political season. It’s such a politically driven show and we talk a lot about what’s happening of course and people will be watching to see what we’re going to do and say. That will be fun,” said the 30-year-old Indianapolis native, who was hired in the middle of the 2014-15 season to help add some diversity to the cast.

She has gone on to make a name for herself on the show, doing some memorable turns on “Weekend Update” and showing off impressions of such notables as Michelle Obama and singer Rihanna.

She has also appeared on Comedy Central’s “Inside Amy Schumer,” FX’s “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” and on NPR’s “This American Life.”

Despite an already impressive comedy résumé, music was in the forefront when she was younger.

“I sang a lot growing up. I auditioned to be on my high school’s improv (comedy) team but it ran into show choir rehearsals so I had to drop it. Choir was always a priority whether it was in school or church. Even in college, I would end up doing more musicals than anything else,” she said.

“When I moved to New York after college, I thought I wanted to be a stage actor and I still might be. I would audition for plays but I kept seeing shows at UCB and started going in that direction.”

UCB, also known as Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, is the one of the country’s leading improvisational comedy schools in the country, with locations in New York and California. Many past and current “Saturday Night Live” cast members are graduates and one of the school’s founders is “SNL” veteran Amy Poehler. Ms. Zamata still performs there regularly.

Her interest in comedy started in middle school as an avid watcher of shows like “SNL,” “Mad TV” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”

“In middle school we had a teacher who would take us to different improv shows and I always thought it would be cool to be on something like that but I never knew anyone from Indianapolis who went on to do that and didn’t necessarily think it was a viable career,” Ms. Zamata said.

The comedy bug continued in college and she went on to become a founding member of the University of Virginia’s improv comedy troupe, Amuse Bouche.

Graduating in 2008, it was off to New York where UCB took hold.

“I took a class to see what it was all about and got hooked immediately. I went through the whole program and made a home there and realized that comedy was where I was headed,” she said.

Her life as a standup comedian blossomed around the same time.

“Most of the other people who I was doing improv with at the time were scared to try it but I like trying scary things. I tried it and didn’t die and found it really fun and challenging. I had been performing a good amount of my life and here was this new skill that I needed to develop in writing jokes and getting what’s inside of my brain outside and making it all understandable,” she said.

The Milton audience will undoubtedly hear her takes on relationships, family and, as she puts it, “grace and society.”

Ms. Zamata heads back to ‘SNL’ the last week of September to get ready for its 42nd season. She says working on the show, with all of its late-night writing sessions, subsisting on takeout food and jockeying for laughs, is an experience like no other.

“You can’t be prepared for it because there isn’t any other show that works like that. The environment is unlike any other environment there is,” she said.

“You have to adjust quickly to it. This will be my third full season and fourth season overall and I think I have a better idea of how things work. But I still don’t know how everything works and I don’t think I’m supposed to know.”

She still gets butterflies when the red light goes on at 11:30 p.m. and thinks she should.

“It means that I care,” she said.

But she doesn’t concentrate on the estimated 6 million people who watch the show every week on TV.

“I’m used to performing in front of a live audience. So all I’m thinking about are those 150 people sitting in front of me. That’s a much easier way to think about it.

“I also look to the crew and the people around the set. They have seen so much comedy over the past decades. I kind of base my humor judgment on them. If they laugh, I know I’m OK.”

Tickets for Tuesday night’s show are in limited supply but available for $15 by visiting miltontheatre.com or by calling (302) 684-3038.

The theater is at 110 Union St. in downtown Milton.

More at Milton

Bringing a nationally known comedian like Ms. Zamata to Milton will not be a one-time thing if promoter Todd Lesser and Milton Theatre executive director Fred Munzert have anything to say about it.

“I moved to Rehoboth last year from Baltimore, where I book concerts and live events,” said Mr. Lesser of Monozine Presents Inc.

“I have family in Milton, who gushed about the theater. After seeing it and meeting Fred, I loved the concept of bringing some events in. I had worked with Sasheer last year and it went great, so in lieu of bringing her back to Baltimore, we brought it here to see how it would do.”

“So far we’re very excited to see how it turns out and will hopefully bring more to town. With local support, this area and especially that room, has amazing potential for more.”

Fulkerson Fest IV

Fulkerson Fest IV, in memory of the late local musician Steve Fulkerson, will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. at Seafood City in Felton.

Proceeds raised will toward music lessons, rock camp and school music lessons for kids.

The day will include NFL tickets for raffle, Chinese auction items, 50/50 a moon bounce and face painting.

Items from Dover Homebrew, Bow Wow petique, Dynamic Dips and signed items by Deep Purple will also be up for grabs.

The event will also be livestreamed on Facebook.

The music will kick off at 4 p.m. with Jordan Amado followed by Hoochi Coochi, Kyle Offidani, The Blues Reincarnation Project and The Joey Fulkerson Trio with Tommy Alderson.

Seafood City is at 9996 S. DuPont Highway in Felton.

Kent arts funding

The Kent County Fund for the Arts recently awarded $21,300 in grants to 13 local arts programs in Kent County.

This year’s recipients were: Biggs Museum of American Art, CERTS Inc., Delaware Choral Society, Delaware Friends of Folk, Dover High School, Dover Public Library, Dover Symphony Orchestra, Inner City Cultural League, Mispillion Art League, Schwartz Center for the Arts, Delaware Children’s Theater, VSA Delaware and Wesley College.

The Kent County Fund for the Arts is a fund of The CenDel Foundation, in partnership with the Delaware Community Foundation.

For information, call 724-7538 or visit www.cendel.org.

Symphony signs Amado

It was announced this week that The Delaware Symphony Association and music director David Amado have entered into a new agreement that will extend through the 2022-2023 season.

That season will mark Mr. Amado’s 20th anniversary as music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.

David Amado

David Amado

Mr. Amado was named music director of the Delaware Symphony beginning with the 2003-2004 season.

The orchestra will open its 2016-2017 season with a Sept. 23 Classics Series concert conducted by Mr. Amado in Copeland Hall at The Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington.

The program features violinist Jaime Laredo and cellist Sharon Robinson performing André Previn’s Double

Concerto, a work he wrote for Mr. Laredo and Ms. Robinson. Mr. Previn will attend the performance and receive the DSO’s 2016-2017 Season A. I. du Pont Composers Award. The concert will conclude with Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler.

Single tickets for this performance are available through The Grand Opera House Box Office at 818 N. Market St. or by calling (302) 652-5577, or by purchasing at www.ticketsatthegrand.org.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is a remake of “Ben-Hur,” Jonah Hill in the comedy-drama “War Dogs” and the animated family film “Kubo the Two Strings 3D.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Chris Hemsworth in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in the suspense comedy “The Nice Guys” and the animated “Ratchet and Clank.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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