Friday, January 6th, 2012

Ten of the Funniest Unaired SNL Sketches

Earlier this week, we posted a video of the “Media-Conspiracy TV Funhouse Segment SNL Banned in 1998.” It’s media-opoly, it’s a media-opoly, goes the song that's still suck in my head. Why was it cut? According to Lorne Michaels, it “wasn’t funny.” More likely than not, however, it’s because the Robert Smigel-written sketch bashed GE, who just happen to own NBC, who just happen to air SNL. So, yeah.

It’s a rare case of a segment being simply banned after its initial airing. More likely, a sketch will be cut during dress rehearsal and not make the show entirely. Which is reason #48,409 why the Internet is wonderful. Recently, tons of unaired SNL clips have been uploaded to NBC.com and Hulu.com, but that’s just the official way of doing things; sketches have been put online for years, including one of my favorite SNL things EVER. Below are 10 such very funny sketches that were cut for time.

“Jerry Sozio”

Chris Farley IS Jerry Sozio, who begins telling a story on Weekend Update about how he was standing in the grocery check-out line, possibly waiting to buy some cigarettes and a copy of Wayne’s World 2, when out of nowhere, a guy cuts in front of him. So, he says to the guy, he says, to the guy standing in front of him, who just cut the line, he says…

“Will Ferrell Sings with Shaq,” 1998

Though Kelsey Grammar hosted the October 3, 1998 episode of SNL, Shaquille O'Neal, or as his friends call him, Kazaam Steel, guest starred in two aired sketches: “Big Bernard,” with the memorable sight of Tracy Morgan spanking the 7' 1" basketball player/part-time rapper, and another where he talks to Cass and Tom on Morning Latte. There was another segment, too, but it got cut — even though it’s the best of three. All I’ve got to say is: Shaq cradles Will Ferrell while they sing a song together.

“Gus Chiggins”

My favorite unaired SNL clip ever. What can I say? I love prospector humor, and I hate whoever cut this sketch.

“Angel of Death,” 2000

Christopher Walken has played the Angel of Death multiple times in his career, including for a Madonna video (“Bad Girl”) and in two separate films, Click and The Prophecy. He also came to whisk Ana Gasteyer away to Heaven in an unaired sketch from 2000…OR DID HE? Well, watch.

“Neil Diamond and Christina Aguilera,” 2000

Will Ferrell’s Neil Diamond is one of my favorite SNL impressions, so I was super excited to find an unaired sketch featuring I Am, I Said himself. It’s from 2000, when Kate Hudson, who appears as Christina Aguilera, was still a thing. Almost famous, indeed. She’s a little stiff as a comedic actress and the clip’s a bit too long (and there’s a relatively risqué blowjob joke in there, too), but it’s all worth to hear “Neil Diamond” scream, “Neil Diamond, you shut your damn mouth!” Yeah, that’s right.

"iPhone, Great for Meth Heads," 2007

In 2007, shortly after the first iPhone was released, Jason Sudeikis starred in a sketch extolling the virtues of the Apple device, including finding an effective escape route using Google Maps after punching a cop and having the ability to store tons of music via iTunes, which is great when you’re coming down from a meth high. Walter White approved.

"Netflix Apology," 2011

When online DVD distributor Netflix inexplicably raised their prices and split into another, terribly named company called Qwikster last year, people got really mad. ALL CAPS MAD. To explain the price increase, CEO Reed Hastings and Head of DVD Services Andy Rendich recorded videos apologizing for what they did and explaining why they did it. Basically, they had no idea what the fuck they were doing, giving SNL some prime fodder for mockery. Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen were cast as Hastings and Rendich, respectively, to further elaborate on their decisions and announce more name changes. Say hello to Nutflix.

"Mozart the Actor," 2011

Back when I was learning the dance moves to 'N Sync's “Bye Bye Bye” in 2000, I would have literally given all my money in the world to have seen Justin Timberlake play Mozart on SNL. Because I was 12 at the time, though, that means I would have had to pony up $4.87. Eleven years later, JT did appear on SNL as the famous composer, to mock those JERK musicians who try their hand acting. Those guys are the worst. Right, JC Chavez? He also makes fun of Justin Bieber, who was six when JT’s strings became attached.

"RIP Steve Jobs," 2011

Steve Jobs passed away on October 15, 2011. Ten days later, while Anna Faris was hosting, SNL was set to run a sketch featuring the titans of online industry, including Mark Zuckerberg (played by Andy Samberg) and Arianna Huffington (Nasim Pedrad), explaining to Charlie Rose on his show what they learned from the Apple founder. It was cut in dress rehearsal, but was added to Hulu the following week. It’s worth a watch, just to see Fred Armisen’s terrifying and accurate Rupert Murdoch impression.

“Great Women Writers Throughout History,” 2011

"You know who's afraid of Virginia Woolf? Any homeboy with a pair of eyeballs."

Josh Kurp would pay more than $4.87 for a DVD box set of unaired SNL sketches.

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  • Brian Boone

    Cinnamon and gravy, I am forever grateful to you for introducing me to ol' Gus Chiggins.

  • Agent M

    Proof that "watching" SNL these days means catching 2 or 3 clips on the web the following week. I know I have seen "Netflix" and "Women Writers" before, but had no idea that they had never aired. Interesting piece!

  • http://jonaspolsky.tumblr.com/ Jonas Polsky

    No to be too much of a nerd (too late) but most of the Hulu sketches aired on the East Coast but were cut from the Hulu presentation.

    I definitely recall watching the Tina Fey open and Mozart sketch.

    Great article by the way, I wish they'd post more Update and dress bloopers.

  • http://www.thehumorcolumnist.com Joe Donatelli

    I never say this about SNL sketches, but how about a Gus Chiggins movie? Is it too late to make that happen?

  • cooldude69

    The one and only time I ever went to a taping of SNL was the night they did that Gus Chiggins sketch. I remember thinking it was hilarious and being surprised it didn't make it into the final show. I think the reason it was cut was because it was shortly after 9/11 and someone probably felt that a sketch about the impending war (even one as goofy as that) would be in bad taste. I remember a commercial-parody sketch featuring Horation Sanz as an Arab guy working at an "Effigy Warehouse" that was having a big sale on George Bush effigies was also cut. There was a daytime talk-show sketch in which women talked about losing weight by cutting off their own body parts that didn't make it to air either. Basically anything even vaguely dark or edgy was nixed.

    A side note: The reason I got in to the taping at all was because it was believed that anthrax had been found in the NBC building that day so a lot of ticket holders did not show up. Seeing how goddamn funny Will Ferrell is, even in a tense environment like that, is inspiring.

  • http://www.twitter.com/pablogoldstein Pablo Goldstein

    I love Gus Chiggins too. I thought they cut that sketch simply because it looked like it was impossible for them to perform without cracking up.

  • http://michaeljohnbertrand.com/MJB/ MisterComedyGeek

    1. Wow, that is total dead weight. I would have cut Jerry Sozio in a heartbeat. I was looking for a gong to hit.

    2. Well, it's a terrible song, neither Shaq or Ferrell can sing, it isn't funny, and their performance is sloppy and ill timed. Of course, that's never stopped SNL before….

    3. Ah, Gus Chiggins, a pointless character piece, where the idea is supposed to be that the character is so inherently hilarious that you don't have to actually write any jokes. Oh ha ha. He's a stereotypical old prospector in the army. That never stops being funny ever, let alone for six minutes of crap writing and no jokes. And oh look, Kimmel is being really unprofessional and giving his line a crap reading where he's almost laughing. Joy.

    Hey Kimmel, you're AT WORK NOW, pay freaking attention!

    I mean, you can hear the audience not buying it. Their laughter is hesitant and light, like "Oh, was that a joke? I guess I am supposed to… laugh here, maybe?"

    And this is the one you people like? Another one I am heartily glad was cut and which, conversely, doesn't seem a hell of a lot worse than a lot of the stuff that does NOT get cut.

    4. OK, now THIS one did not deserve to get cut. I think it's hilarious. The timing is a little bad, but Walken makes a very funny neurotic Angel of… something.

    Kind of wish the husband had said "You! You did this you monster! to the Angel and he'd said "Oh, give me a break!" at the end.

    Still, great skit, way better written than the usual drivel.

    5. Oh boy, Will Ferrell's highly pointless Neil Diamond, where not only does he feel he needs no jokes, just an extensive knowledge of the Neil Diamond playbook, he also inflicts his terrible singing voice on us. Joy.

    Oh, and for you comedy noobs, the joke is that he sings a random Neil Diamond song instead of the thing he's supposed to be singing! Nobody could see that coming every single time!

    Real comedy builds on itself, It's not just the same joke over and over again. Each return to the joke adds something new to it.

    SNL needs to learn : catchphrases BAD.

    You know what? I'm done for now. This crap has destroyed my will to rant for the time being. I will do the other five later.

    • http://slaneofthought.tumblr.com Kevin Slane

      @MisterComedyGeek Please don't.

  • http://michaeljohnbertrand.com/MJB/ MisterComedyGeek

    Despite popular demand, I am back.

    6. iPod ad. Pretty good. Not great, but decent. I think the script needs some punching up to make the gags work better… I get the distinct impression of bad timing. The overlapping editing style, while true to what it's parodying, really kills the momentum. Still, funny stuff, and it plays to Sedakis' strengths.

    Oh. Crap. The rest are Hulu, and I'm Canadian, so no hulu.

    Oh well, I am sure I can find more comedy to criticize.

  • Jason Farr@facebook

    It's JC Chasez. I made the Chavez mistake at first myself.