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Queering Mainstream Comedy: Molly Kearney Becomes Saturday Night Live’s First Non-Binary Cast Member

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at American chapter.

As Saturday Night Live (SNL) gears up for its return to NBC on Oct. 1, Molly Kearney is making history as the show’s first non-binary cast member. SNL announced Kearney as one of four new featured players to be joining the show for its 48th season. 

Meeting ‘Meatbrick’

Molly ‘Meatbrick’ Kearney is an Ohio-born comedian, known mainly for their queer focused stand-up and utterly hilarious social media presence. They have built their career in two of the most prominent cities in the comedy scene – Chicago and Los Angeles.

In 2019, Kearney participated in Comedy Central’s ‘Up Next’ Showcase, a stand-up event highlighting the freshest faces in comedy. In their 7-minute time slot, they explained the origins of their unique nickname “Meatbrick.” When growing up, Molly’s  two older brothers convinced them, via fake birth certificate, that their real name was not Molly – it was actually Meatbrick.

“So little old Meatbrick went to school the next day in my jumper, and I went up to Sister Karen’s desk and said, ‘Sister Karen, something’s come up. I will not be answering to Molly anymore. You will call me Meatbrick,’” said Molly.

When not taking to the stage themselves, Kearney frequently hosts comedy shows in Los Angeles. They are one of two founders of ComedyManor, presenting live stand-up comedy every week at the iconic York Manor. Molly is also a founding member of Skin Tag Open Mic, aiming to provide a free space for stand-up comics to perform.

The Queer Age of Comedy

Molly’s addition to the SNL lineup comes as queer comics continue to take the comedy world by storm. It is no secret that comedians have long made profit off of the use of LGBTQIA+ individuals as punchlines to their jokes. However, a newer, queerer age of comedy is on the horizon.

SNL is arguably the most mainstream sketch show in the comedy industry, beating all other entertainment shows in viewership for its 46th season. With its reputation, SNL’s attitude towards queer identities holds significance. SNL has previously come under fire for multiple homophobic and transphobic jokes, but the sketch show is slowly becoming a queerer space.

Kearney is the seventh LGBTQIA+ comedian to be featured on SNL, with four of the six prior queer comics joining the show in the past 10 years. Although there may only be a handful of queer SNL cast members, their presence has been greatly felt. There has been an uptick in sketches written and performed by queer folk that poke fun at the LGBTQIA+ community in an inoffensive, lighthearted manner. Not only will Molly be able to contribute to that queer-centered comedy, they will be doing so while simultaneously confirming genderqueer individuals’ belonging in mainstream comedy.

“It really means a lot to me. I remember the first time I saw bisexual representation on TV, I almost cried,” said Greta Readleaf, a queer student at American University, in response the news of Kearney’s casting. “Representation means a lot more than people think, especially when you have never been represented before.”

Kearney has received a large amount of transphobic backlash online after the announcement of their addition to the cast, but the love they have received from queer comedy fans has come back double. Representation is essential in mainstream media, and Molly is bridging the gap in trans and non-binary representation through their role on SNL. There is no doubt that their debut will touch the heart of queer viewers everywhere in a special way.

Be sure to tune into Saturday Night Live on Oct. 1 at 11:30 p.m. EST to watch Molly ‘Meatbrick’ Kearney make history!

Julianne Sheehan (she/they) is a Sophomore at American University majoring in Broadcast Journalism, with a minor in Marketing. Born and raised just outside of Boston, MA, this tea enthusiast is excited to be writing for HerCampus AU as a feature writer. A cat-person through and through, Julianne dedicates all of their writing to her pride and joy: Josie.