The most uncomfortable ‘SNL’ sketch in history

The most uncomfortable 'SNL' sketch in history

Saturday Night Live will return tonight (October 1st, 2022) in the 48th season of the long-standing comedy show. SNL first aired in 1975, and the premiere episode was hosted by George Carlin, though it was under the show’s original title NBC’s Saturday Night.

The comedy show primarily consists of short skits and sketches played by a large, varied cast of comedians and actors. Each episode is generally hosted by a different celebrity guest, who delivers a witty opening monologue and then performs in the sketches with the cast to varying degrees of success.

The original cast of SNL included John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Chevy Chase, among others. Later, cast members would cut their teeth on the show before going on to become well-known actors and comedians in their own right. Some of these included Eddie Murphy, Martin Short, Conan O’Brien, Bob Odenkirk, Mike Myers and Adam Sandler.

Much of the comedic nature of the show revolves around the current political and social values ​​and events of America, during which time the episode is written and aired. As such, naturally, as with any form of comedy, sometimes many of the sketches are, shall we say, a little close to the bone.

Some of the most controversial sketches in SNL history includes Alec Baldwin making sexual advances on a boy scout played by Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon impersonating Chris Rock in blackface, and Kenan Thompson making light of domestic abuse while portraying Tiger Woods. Rightly so, these portions of the show received several complaints from members of the public.

However, arguably the most jarring and downright unacceptable sketch in the history of SNL came during its first season in 1975 when Chevy Chase said the ‘n-word’ directly to Richard Pryor’s face. Pryor was known for his own progressive stance on race relations in his stand-up routine and would have known the nature of the sketch beforehand.

Chase’s character had been interviewing Pryor’s character for a job as a janitor. A word association game was the only part of the interview left to clear up. The game quickly turns to racial slurs, with Chase using slurs against black people and Pryor responding with those aimed at whites.

Eventually, Chase arrives at the ‘n-word’ to which Pryor responds, “dead honkey.” The sketch is painfully unfunny, a situation made even more uncomfortable to watch by the accompanying laugh track. While arguably, the sketch was written to highlight the futility of racism, it only serves to reinforce its hateful nature.

The scene ends with Chase seemingly apologizing for his words by making Pryor the “best-paid janitor in America”. However, this only creates further racial tension with a white man in a position of power and a black man in an unskilled and low-paid job.

You might think that SNL would have learned from this poor judgment of error, but there have since been countless controversial sketches that don’t manage to offer anything but offense. There have recently been calls for the 48th season of the show to be the last, seeing as it cannot keep up with the onslaught of quickfire, online comedy.

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