Top 10 Most Controversial Saturday Night Live Sketches Ever



Top 10 Most Controversial Saturday Night Live Sketches Ever

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
Yep, the most controversial “SNL” sketches ever went there! For this list, we're looking at sketches from “Saturday Night Live” that toyed with the line between laughter and public uproar. Our countdown includes Rosetta Stone, Heroin AM, Djesus Uncrossed, and more!
Yep, they went there. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Controversial SNL Sketches Ever.

For this list, we’re looking at sketches from Saturday Night Live that toyed with the line between laughter and public uproar. We won’t be including monologues as they already have a list of their own.

#10: Rosetta Stone

This commercial parody starts off innocently enough with some happy Rosetta Stone users showing off their newfound skills. In a rapid escalation of events, things take a turn for the creepy when we cut to some men who purchased the Thai version of the software for a rather perverse purpose. While most language programs teach simple conversational phrases, the Thai vocabulary seems to be tailored for very specific ends. The show received backlash from the Thai government, with the cultural minister demanding the clip be removed from YouTube for “tarnishing Thailand’s image”.

#9: Weekend Update: Gov. David Paterson State of the State

SNL’s take on politics is usually comedy gold but that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally miss the mark. When Fred Armisen parodied New York governor David Paterson, rather than focus on his political career or scandals, they focussed on his blindness. Needless to say, the governor was unimpressed, accusing the show of relying on offensive stereotypes. However, when he appeared on the show beside Fred Armensein, it looked like it was all water under the bridge. He was able to laugh at his own expense but also gave the cast a taste of their own medicine by throwing in some shots of his own.

#8: Weekend Update: Leslie Jones

When People named Lupita Nyong’o the most beautiful person in the world, Leslie Jones’ response at the Update desk sparked serious backlash. Leslie acknowledged Nyong’o’s beauty, but also joked that back in the days of slavery, her own size and strength would have been considered more important - leading to a better love life. The sketch ignited a firestorm on Twitter, where commentators took issue with her casual approach. In a series of 15 tweets, Jones fired back, stating that the joke was about her painful realization that black men aren’t really interested in her. Maybe there was a better way to bring this up …

#7: Heroin AM

As will soon become apparent, SNL loves a good spoof commercial. In this case, they used the format of a typical pharmaceutical drug advert to introduce a much harder substance. It follows three parents who use Heroin A.M. to keep up with their hectic lives. This sketch divided viewers, with some unimpressed at how flippantly the issue was being addressed, especially as SNL alums Chris Farley and John Belushi both died of drug overdoses. However, others loved the sketch, crediting it as a good way to get America talking about an uncomfortable subject.

#6: Djesus Uncrossed

If you’re going to parody Jesus Christ, be prepared to ruffle a few feathers. Christoph Waltz takes the lead in a movie trailer that gives this biblical story a Quentin Tarantino style makeover. It’s incredibly gory and bloody, plus we’re pretty sure that the source material never included guns. Some religious groups were offended by this sketch, which portrays Jesus as super-violent, rather than forgiving. The Council on American-Islamic Relations released a statement saying that they understood the show wanted to “provoke a humorous response”, but that it was “a distasteful portrayal”.

#5: Father Daughter Ad

This spoof of a Toyota commercial starring guest host Dakota Johnson and cast member Taran Killam drove viewers to Twitter to express their outrage. At first, viewers are lulled into a false sense of security thinking that what they’re watching is a heartwarming moment between a father and daughter. Then a pickup truck full of heavily armed men comes into view. The controversial cherry on this dubious cake is when a tearful father tells these men to look after his daughter and one responds. So really they couldn’t have been all that surprised that this sketch would incense viewers.

#4: Starbucks Verismo

You know when you go to a coffee shop and let’s just say it's not just the coffee that’s bitter? Well, this sketch was about bringing that experience home with the Starbucks Verismo. The coffee machine is rude, stupid, and incompetent. The female version, Verquonica, is no better. What viewers noticed though, were stereotypical black accents and jokes that reinforce negative stereotypes. Surely there was plenty to laugh about without falling back on racist tropes to get to the punchline. Needless to say, the sketch left viewers with more of a sour taste in their mouths than expired milk.

#3: Word Association

We guarantee that this skit would never fly today. In a job interview sketch, Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor engage in a word association game. Things start out innocently enough. But the game soon exposes Chase’s character’s prejudices, becoming heated and racially-charged. In a climactic moment that makes us wince, Chase throws out the N-word - and Pryor isn’t taking it lying down. Paul Mooney, who wrote the skit, said it was inspired by his own interview for SNL. It’s been called one of the show’s most shocking - and greatest - sketches.

#2: Canteen Boy & the Scoutmaster

This recurring character played by Adam Sandler is considered an SNL classic, but this particular sketch divided audiences. Alec Baldwin plays a scoutmaster who makes obvious and uncomfortable sexual advances toward Canteen Boy. According to Baldwin, the sketch caused 300,000 phone call complaints and the loss of seven affiliates. The Boy Scouts of America weighed in on the controversy too. In response to complaints, when showing reruns the sketch was preceded by a disclaimer saying that Canteen Boy is actually 27. Given the character’s childlike nature though, the clip has a considerably darker tone.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Uncle Roy

Jesus Visits Tim Tebow & the Denver Broncos

Aer Lingus

Samuel L. Jackson Swears

Nude Beach

#1: The Situation Room: Tiger Woods' Accidents

SNL’s tone-deaf take on Tiger Woods’ affairs left some viewers understandably fuming. We see the golfer at press conferences and every time the camera cuts back to him, he’s sporting a new injury, clearly caused by his wife, played by Blake Lively. Even his cries for help are turned into a punchline. Many viewers pointed out that if the roles had been reversed, it would never be treated so lightly, while others pointed out the poor timing due to musical guest that week, Rihanna. While some people did see the funny side, most thought the show had gone too far.