This weekend on Saturday Night Live, in between a commercial for a drag queen GPS and Steve Carell selling tickets to Beautiful Boy, Colin Jost made an impassioned argument in favor of Amazon’s recently-announced new headquarters in Long Island City. “Only New Yorkers could complain about getting 25,000 new jobs," said Jost, a man better known for being on Saturday Night Live than actually being funny.
“All the cities who lost out must be like, 'Shut up you whiny bitches,'” he continued. “New York basically won the lottery and we're like, 'But the subways might be slightly more crowded.' Meanwhile, people in West Virginia are like, 'Well, back to the mines.’”
Jost acknowledged that the criticism of Amazon’s move centered around how the headquarters would raise housing prices, but joked that it was "a little late for New Yorkers to complain about rent. I mean, even Amazon had to move to Queens because it couldn't afford to live in Manhattan." Zing!
Jost’s jokes, however, completely miss the point. New York City courted Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, offering $1.5 billion in tax cuts which could grow to $3 billion when combined with existing incentives, essentially paying the world’s richest man to move his company to a city that’s not exactly wanting for business. The New Yorker called it “the equivalent of every city resident Venmoing $348 to Bezos,” which made me want to throw my phone into the empty Amazon Prime package I’ve been using as a trash can. "The idea that [Amazon] will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here," tweeted newly elected NY Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While supporters of Amazon’s move make much of the jobs and revenue the new headquarters will create, critics are more concerned with what the tax cut means for the subway system, for community development and infrastructure.
No, Colin Jost, getting an Amazon HQ in NY is nothing like winning the lottery unless you had to pay to get that lottery ticket and pay more than it was even worth.
— Touré (@Toure) November 18, 2018
If Colin Jost is so down for Amazon coming here he should go work there and give his job to someone who can actually write a joke
— Will Kellogg (@Will_Kellogg) November 18, 2018
All of this seems lost on Colin Jost, a private-school educated doctor’s son who nabbed his job at SNL straight out of Harvard. Jost’s extreme level of privilege allows him to dismiss educated criticism by people concerned for the most vulnerable in their city as whining, and this isn’t the first time Jost’s jokes — an alliteration I both appreciate and hate — have proved what an entitled asshole he is. In 2016, after Tinder expanded it’s gender options to include 37 different identities, Jost called the feature “Why Democrats lost the election.” It’s clear that Jost, whose point of view has been called the “smug style in American liberalism,” can’t empathize with anyone outside his worldview.
we poke fun but colin jost is legit brave to publicly date a trans man
— Andrea Long Chu (@theorygurl) November 18, 2018
As SNL became less and less funny, “Weekend Update” has usually been the one holdout of actual humor amidst tired sketches and boring hosts, because it was the news presented by people who were in on the joke. With anchors like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler — hell, even Seth Meyers — we felt like we were getting a take presented by someone with an irreverent contempt for the system. But Jost isn’t performing a gleeful subversion of the out-of-touch news anchors we love to hate, he just is one.