With conservative forces working feverishly to attack the right to safe, legal abortion, including putting actual bounties on the heads of Texans who don’t agree with the GOP’s throwback view of women as property, pro-choice activists are energized as well. And while both sides of the abortion debate are pretty firmly entrenched by this point, a vocally pro-choice comedian like Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong can only do what she does best, as, on last night’s episode, the ten-season veteran premiered a particularly potent new character in Goober The Clown Who Had An Abortion When She Was 23.
Appearing on Weekend Update kitted out in full merry clown gear (spinning bow tie, squirting flower, malfunctioning bike horn, and all), Strong came out to uneasy audience applause greeting her creation. That only increased as Strong, alternating Goober’s clown schtick with what sure sounded like a personal tale of an abortion “the day before my 23rd birthday,” excoriated Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature for passing the nation’s most restrictive anti-abortion measure. But, you know, in a wacky way, since she’s a clown! “It’s a rough subject, so we’re gonna do fun clown stuff to make it more palatable!,” beamed Goober, before hastily offering Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost a nice, distracting ballon animal.
For Strong, who’s taken a more direct comic approach when addressing politicians on the issue of abortion in the past, Goober’s antics functioned as a jarringly furious delivery device for some bracingly frank talk. Not only about her (either Goober or Strong’s) abortion experience, but about how conservatives’ constant woman-shaming has stifled meaningful conversation about the procedure even among Strong (or Goober’s) close circle of friends. Noting that one in three American women have an abortion in their lifetime, Strong/Goober yet lamented how it takes going out on a limb for any woman to try and speak about the issue with her peers.
“And then, like, eight other clowns at the table say they’ve had an abortion, too, ’cause that’s how common it is,” Goober related, adding that, after that, “Everyone’s excited and relieved to be talking about it.” Cue bicycle horn, since Goober’s just a silly clown! You know, even when noting that, if she hadn’t had her abortion at 23, “I know I wouldn’t be a clown on TV today,” and that the only thing criminalizing abortion will do is ensure “a bunch of dead clowns in a dark alley.”
For Strong, the Goober’s manic routine served to mask her own barely contained anger at not only Texas’ patently unconstitutional law (which bans abortions even before women can know they’re pregnant) but also the successful stigmatization of a legal medical procedure that’s nobody’s goddamned business but the woman involved. (“What the dick is that?,” Strong asked of the Texas law, with Jost sheepishly reminding her about what you can’t say on live TV.) “It’s gonna happen, so it ought to be safe, legal, and accessible,” Strong/Goober concluded, her point emerging in the high, squeaky voice of someone who’s just sucked down a balloon’s-worth of helium in order to ease viewers into the unnecessarily stigmatized discussion. Honka-honka!