Top 10 Controversial SNL Monologues



Top 10 Controversial SNL Monologues

Written by George Pacheco

Sometimes, one person's joke ends up being another person's insult. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Controversial SNL Monologues.

For this list, we'll be looking at opening monologues from "Saturday Night Live" that were considered shocking, or which otherwise made pop culture news headlines for their content.

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Sometimes, one person's joke ends up being another person's insult. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Controversial SNL Monologues.

For this list, we'll be looking at opening monologues from "Saturday Night Live" that were considered shocking, or which otherwise made pop culture news headlines for their content.

#10: Kumail Nanjiani Attacks Racists

Actor, comedian, writer and podcast host Kumail Nanjiani attacked hate groups and racists in October of 2017 on the main stage of "Saturday Night Live." The "Silicon Valley" star focused a particular segment of his monologue specifically against the rising tide of Islamophobia in America, hilariously pointing out that many of those who have harassed him don't even recognize that Nanjiani is actually of Pakistani, not Indian, descent. His observations were both biting and culturally relevant, reflecting that year’s turbulent political climate.

#9: Sam Kinison Lets Loose

Sam Kinison was one of a kind, a firebrand comedian who frequently butted heads with censors during his 1980s heyday. Censorship certainly came into play in a 1986 episode of “SNL,” as Kinison found himself on the wrong end of a battle with network execs when it came to his stand-up material. He performed two different jokes that ended up being cut from broadcast, and the material came as a complete surprise to everyone backstage, leading to blackouts in the middle of his set. Just a few weeks later, Kinison returned to host the show, opening with a guitar solo, poking fun at the censors, and finishing off with accompaniment by some mounted police officers.

#8: Kristen Stewart's Language

Even in 2017, certain dirty words still possess a power to get people in a tizzy, or at least that was the reaction the morning after actress Kristen Stewart hosted "Saturday Night Live" in February. Stewart's monologue was actually full of funny highlights, including commentary on President Trump's Twitter obsession, as well as a controversial line where she referred to herself as "so gay." It was the tail end of Stewart's monologue that earned her the most buzz, however, as she mistakenly and excitedly dropped an F-bomb on live television. Both Stewart and “SNL” brass laughed off the incident, but it definitely made headlines.

#7: Aziz Ansari vs. Prejudice

Our next monologue once again takes aim at American racism (and at President Trump), and it also arrives as a very special first. Comedian Aziz Ansari was the first South Asian performer to host “SNL” in January 2017, and did so with a killer stand up performance that was simultaneously brave, brash and very funny. Ansari didn't shy away from humorous material that focused upon cultural insensitivity in popular culture, as well as the protests that were center stage on the news in the wake of President Trump's inauguration. By most accounts, Ansari's monologue was a success, but it achieved this by attacking topics that were, and remain, undeniably controversial.

#6: Dave Chappelle Provokes the Censors

At this point, you're likely seeing a theme with some of of the monologues on this list, as a number of them deal specifically with the aftermath of Donald Trump ascending to the U.S. Presidency. Dave Chappelle had the unenviable task of hosting the very first episode of SNL after the 2016 election. Chappelle, to his credit, was cool, calm and collected in his monologue, and even controversially commented that he was going to give Trump “a chance." Chappelle also commented on gun violence, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, refusing to shy away from incendiary topics. The gamble paid off for Chappelle, as he later won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

#5: Norm Macdonald Returns

Talk about poetic justice. Less than two years after cult comic icon Norm Macdonald was fired from “SNL” for reportedly "not being funny, " he returned. It what can only be described as a truly ironic twist, the show then brought back Macdonald to host the show. Well, "Saturday Night Live" certainly got what they paid for, as not only was Macdonald his usual witty, hilarious self, but he also totally skewered the show during his monologue. Among his many insults were openly calling out the show as "bad," and deliberately referencing his firing only eighteen months or so prior. This one truly must be heard to be believed.

#4: Chris Rock & the Boston Marathon

Chris Rock is a fearless comedian, and he proved that in November 2014, when he hosted an episode of "Saturday Night Live's" 40th season. No one was spared during former “SNL” star Rock's fiery monologue, as the comedian joked about such controversial topics as 9/11 and the still-recent Boston Marathon bombings. What set Rock's monologue apart from others was how effective it was, and how it reminded us once again that the trailblazing comedy program rose to prominence by being unafraid to ruffle feathers or offend just about anyone's delicate sensibilities.

#3: Larry David's Holocaust Humor

The mid-2010s sure were controversial times. This one is from guest host and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" star Larry David. In November 2017, the "Seinfeld" co-creator started off strong with some bits about love and dating before delving into the current sexual assault allegations against high-profile Hollywood players like Harvey Weinstein. The bit then somehow took a left turn into the, uh, imaginary scenario of picking up girls at a concentration camp during the Holocaust . . a bit which got David into seriously hot water with some critics and fans the next day. You think?

#2: Louis C.K. Talks Pedophilia

Some topics are controversial no matter what. During his first “SNL” hosting gig back in 2015, Louis C.K. found this out firsthand thanks to his opening monologue, during which he talked about growing up in the 1970s, his own “mild racism” and… child molesters. C.K.’s reputation as a “comic’s comic” didn’t save him from backlash from the press and on social media, but he stuck to his guns, delivering a similarly edgy monologue when he returned as host two years later. Of course, once Louis was accused of and admitted to sexual misconduct in 2017, all of his comedy took on extra levels of cringe and controversy.

#1: Martin Lawrence: Banned Boy

Sometimes, a guest host can rebound from a controversial monologue on SNL. Other times? Well, they get permanently banned and become persona non grata. That's what happened to Martin Lawrence when he hosted "Saturday Night Live" back in 1994. Lawrence was riding high at the time on the success of his T.V. show "Martin," so maybe this could explain why he played so fast and loose with network censors. Lawrence's stand-up opened with then-topical jokes about Lorena Bobbitt before devolving into some very graphic talk about feminine hygiene. The segment has never been re-broadcast, with most airings of the show featuring a text crawl referencing how Lawrence almost cost everyone at SNL their jobs. Martin's never been back on since, and he likely never will.