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Amber Ruffin can't force Seth Meyers to replicate Papa John's racial slur on Late Night

Amber Ruffin
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Late Night With Seth Meyers writer and regular onscreen delight Amber Ruffin has a few funny recurring bits where she routinely makes her New Hampshire-raised boss comically uncomfortable. Alongside fellow writer Jenny Hegel, Ruffin gleefully pokes at Meyers’ white privilege in “Jokes Seth Can’t Tell,” and, in Tuesday’s installment of her spotlight news roundup segment “Amber Says What?,” the ebulliently outraged Ruffin once more made Meyers the butt of her jokes. Well, the co-butt, as, after asking an incredulous “What?!” following stories about Trump hip-checking the Queen of England and a CVS manager calling the cops on a black woman with a coupon, Ruffin went after pizza mogul and outed bigot John (“Papa John”/“Black athlete posture monitor”) Schnatter.

Ruffin first put to rest the phrasing of news stories claiming the Papa John’s founder was “caught” using a racial slur on a conference call with fellow pizza execs in 2017. “Caught? It was a conference call!,” stormed Ruffin. “You didn’t get caught, you got heard!” The now-infamous n-word has cost Schnatter his position at his mid-quality pizza concern and cost Papa John’s a lot of money. (Don’t worry though—NFL fans aren’t really into pizza.) Even though Schnatter is now claiming he was just saying “nigger” to illustrate the point that he’s not as racist as another fast food founder, that nobody was supposed to tell anyone what he said, and, as Ruffin related, he says he was “forced” to use the word anyway. After her most disbelieving “What?!” yet, Ruffin pulled Meyers into the discussion, attempting to compel her own white employer to use the slur. Cutting to a nonplussed Meyers, Ruffin gave it all she had—even employing a sneaky, abrupt callback, which prompted the humorously flustered Meyers to order, “Don’t cut back to me any more!” All to no avail, as Ruffin finally signed off from the bit she slyly renamed “Seth Says The N-Word.”


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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.