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On Late Night, Amber Ruffin takes down R. Kelly for pedophilia, crappy rhymes

Amber Ruffin
Screenshot: Late Night With Seth Meyers

Whether in her recurring segment “Amber Says What,trying to bait her boss into saying the n-word, or last night’s “Amber’s Minute Of Fury,” Late Night With Seth Meyers writer and onscreen joy machine Amber Ruffin has a way of combining righteous indignation, sharp social commentary, and undeniable adorableness that’s uniquely effective. Witness Thursday’s furious minute (actually more like three), where Ruffin responded with signature chipper outrage at singer and decades-long-accused pedophile and possible sex cult leader R. Kelly’s new 19-minute song “I Admit It.” (Spoiler: R. Kelly does not actually admit it.)

After getting up a good head of steam with jokes about the singer’s inexplicable freedom to release sprawling, self-justifying musical defenses while “all across America, black people are in prison for tiny, insignificant infractions,” Ruffin cut short the audience’s applause by admonishing, “You don’t have to clap every time I yell, because I am never going to stop.” While noting that she hasn’t listened to Kelly’s ode to himself and his mounting collection of creepy sex allegations (“And I never will”), Ruffin clearly has been stewing over the transcript. For one thing, as a writer, Ruffin wasn’t about to let Kelly’s lazy flow go, taking him to task for the redundant “ATM machine,” and some lackadaisical wordplay. “One, ‘ladies’ and ‘crazy’ is a slant rhyme, and you’re better than that,” Ruffin scolded.


As for the whole “verifiable history of engaging in sex with underage girls” and “taping women during sex without their consent” thing, Ruffin again employed some writerly logic to rebut the singer’s self-excusing self-pity. Quoting Kelly complaining that, sure he likes young girls, but does that make him a pedophile, Ruffin broke it down succinctly. “You married a 15-year old (late singer and R. Kelly protégé Aaliyah) when you were 27!,” raged Ruffin, “That’s the definition of a pedophile! We’re not calling you a pedophile, Merriam-Webster is!” (Fun fact, the top current example of the word “protégé” at Merriam-Webster’s website is about R. Kelly’s illegal marriage to Aaliyah.) Bringing her rant to a close, Ruffin slammed the door by stating that the only reason R. Kelly isn’t behind bars at this point is that he’s only ever preyed on black women, noting that “Kanye West simply interrupted Taylor Swift, and he had to leave the country for a year!” Rage on, Ruffin.

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About the author

Dennis Perkins

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