A Saturday Night Live star was fired over the weekend over a joke that was widely panned as racially insensitive, but a look through the show’s long run yields many examples of content that would be unacceptable to today’s politically correct audiences.
Former Saturday Night Live (SNL) star Shane Gillis became cancel culture’s latest scalp earlier this week after a year-old slip on his podcast went viral on social media. Once considered a bastion of edgy comedy, SNL caved to the social media mob and fired Gillis. But let us take you on a tour through SNL’s back catalog of politically incorrect comedy. (RELATED: Comedians Are Demoloshing Progressive Thought Police, And It’s Driving The Media Nuts)
Julia Sweeney: Sweeney starred in a popular show clip titled “It’s Pat,” in which Sweeney portrays an ambiguously-gendered character named Pat Riley. The skit also features liberal firebrand and actress Kathy Griffin, who hosts a radio show. The jokes mock transgender people and crossdressers, and the story arc ultimately ends with a male character cross-dressing to fulfill a sexual fantasy. As transgenderism has become mainstreamed, the skit has come under fire, with Sweeney expressing regrets over her role in the show.
Andrew Dice Clay: Clay’s early 90’s appearance on SNL drew widespread outrage and condemnation over its sexist humor. Fellow cast member Nora Dunn was so upset by Clay’s sense of humor that she refused to appear next to him. Nevertheless, SNL refused to give into the outrage mob of the time and Dice was still allowed to appear on the show.
Chevy Chase: Chase and legendary actor Richard Pryor participated in a 1975 skit that would likely face heated criticism if it was done today. The skit used racially-charged humor and featured both Pyor and Chase yelling racial slurs at each other. Yet, Chase continues to be a revered figure in Hollywood and the skit has not hurt his career at all. (RELATED: Chevy Chase Slams ‘SNL’: ‘I’m Amazed That Lorne [Michaels] Has Gone So Low’)
Sinead O’Connor: The popular Irish singer drew widespread condemnation after she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II during an SNL skit to protest sex abuse in Catholic Church. The incident drew widespread condemnation including from Madonna, who had a Catholic upbringing. Still, despite that stunning moment over 25 years ago, O’Connor’s career has continued to flourish and she recently converted to Islam last year. (RELATED: California Bill Would Force Priests To Violate Seal Of Confession)
Rage Against The Machine: The iconic heavy metal band was known for its anti-American sentiment and one of its most controversial moments came in 1996 when the group held two American flags upside down on the show. The band’s actions did not go without consequences as they were permanently banned from SNL, but it has not hurt the group’s career. The group continues to sell out shows across the world while freely speaking out about their fringe political views. (RELATED: Teamsters Rage Against The Machine During Annual Convention)
Bill Hader: The popular comedian best known for his role in “The Office” is not known as a divisive person, but Hader and SNL landed in hot water in 2007 after they did a skit that was widely viewed as insensitive towards people with Down Syndrome. In the skit titled “Danny’s Song,” he remarked, “He loved this song. I remember we had this one great day at the park. We just had so much fun. He was running in the grass and chasing squirrels. They had this fountain and we threw pennies in it for hours. So great. It was the first day that I ever thought to myself: ‘I have a dad. And not that I have a dad with Down Syndrome. He loved crayons.'” The remark sparked criticism from the National Down Sydrome Society, but it has not had any impact on Hader’s successful career.
Dan Akyrod: Best known for his role in the popular 1980’s “Ghostbuster” movies, Akyrod also spawned one of the most legendary SNL skits ever titled “Point, Counterpoint.” That back and forth between Akyrod and Jane Curtin often led to what became Akyrod’s catch phrase when he yelled “Jane, you ignorant slut” at her during disagreements. That kind of sexist comedy would not be welcomed on SNL today, but it has done nothing to harm Akyrod’s career.
Alec Baldwin: Baldwin played a scoutmaster in a 1994 skit who sexually harasses a young scout, who is played by Adam Sandler. The skit received criticism for conflating homosexuality and pedophilia, with the Boy Scouts of America ripping the skit as “unfunny” and said that it trivialized pedophilia. Still, no damage has been done to Baldwin and Sandler’s long and successful careers.
Mike Myers: Myers and legendary comedian Chris Farley participated in a 1994 skit titled “Japanese Gameshow,” which largely played on Asian stereotypes, which ironically is what Gillis was just fired for. At one point during the skit, Farley exclaims, “Does anybody here speak English?!” Farley is widely considered one of the greatest entertainers of his generation, and Myers was still appearing in films as recently as 2018.
John Belushi: The legendary actor was one of SNL’s original cast members and participated in one of the show’s most legendary skits in 1975 when he donned yellowface in the famous “Samurai Hotel” skit. The skit features Belushi swinging his Samurai around while wearing traditional Japanese garb and screaming unintelligible language. Needless to say this skit would not be allowed to take place today, but it has not hurt the late Belushi’s legacy.
While all of the people above have either been accused of a crime or said or done something more offensive than anything Gillis said, none of them deserve to lose the opportunities their talent and hard work have afforded them. But, that’s precisely the point. American society has become too hypersensitive and too sanctimonious. It’s ruining comedy and its once-great institutions.