SNL Sketches The Performers Absolutely Hated

Having screened more than 900 episodes since premiering on NBC way back in 1975, late-night comedic institution "Saturday Night Live" has inevitably had its fair share of sketches that have missed the mark. It's the very nature of the format after all.

Who can forget the hullabaloo that Alec Baldwin and Adam Sandler's misjudged "Canteen Boy" skit caused in 1994, for example? Or the foul-mouthed "Who Shot J.R.?" parody which resulted in cast member Charles Rocket's dismissal in 1981? And more recently, Michael Che's "Gen Z Hospital" sketch faced accusations of misappropriating African-American culture.

Sometimes, "SNL" performers don't need critics or the millions of viewers watching at home to tell them a particular routine sucked. Over the course of the show's lengthy history, several major names have confessed that they are all too aware about the times they bombed hard. Some recognized at the time that they were committing a crime against comedy. Others only realized that they were guilty of such an offense much further down the line. Here's a look at 14 sketches which those involved wish they could bury forever.

Jimmy Fallon regrets Chris Rock impersonation

At the turn of the century, Jimmy Fallon impersonated a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member for a particular sketch. Nothing wrong with that, you may think. But the very Caucasian future "The Tonight Show" host was, for some reason, mimicking African-American comedian Chris Rock. Oh, and he donned blackface to do so.

Remarkably, Fallon's terribly misguided impression appeared to escape any considerable backlash in the supposedly enlightened Y2K. Of course, nothing stays buried for too long in the world of social media. And in 2020, his blackface past caught up with him when the sketch resurfaced on Twitter alongside the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty. Fallon quickly took to the same platform to express his remorse: "In 2000, while on 'SNL,' I made a terrible decision to do an impersonation of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably offensive decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable." 

But the comedian was defended by an unlikely source, the man he'd mocked. Later that year, Rock told The New York Times, "Jimmy's a great guy. And he didn't mean anything. A lot of people want to say intention doesn't matter, but it does. And I don't think Jimmy Fallon intended to hurt me. And he didn't."

Jenny Slate is mortified she dropped the F-bomb

You have to feel for Jenny Slate. A relative unknown when she was asked to join the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 2009, the distinctive-voiced comedian must have felt the eyes of the nation watching during her first appearance on the show. And she no doubt wanted the ground to swallow her up when she made the ultimate "SNL" faux pas in one of her very first sketches.

Slate was supposed to repeatedly utter the word "frickin'" while appearing alongside Megan Fox and Kristen Wiig in a biker babes skit. Much to her visible horror, the comedian accidentally dropped an F-bomb in one of her lines instead. Slate never really recovered from her baptism of fire and was let go from the team at the end of the same 35th season, although she insists that the curse word wasn't to blame.

In a 2014 interview with Glamour magazine, Slate revealed that the incident left her with stage fright and that it took therapy sessions with a hypnotist and time with pals to help her get over the ordeal. And unsurprisingly, she's never had the desire to view the clip: "That'd be like watching yourself fall down the aisle at your wedding! I feel like it happened to somebody else, and I want to tell her, 'Oh, girl. I'm so sorry, but you need to move on.'"

Taran Killam is embarrassed by Donald Trump sketches

Just a month after impersonating Donald Trump for the first time on "Saturday Night Live," cast member Taran Killam got the chance to appear alongside the real thing when the future president was invited to guest host in 2015. The experience wasn't a particularly pleasant one, though, as the comedian recalled two years later to NPR: "It was not enjoyable at the time and something that only grows more embarrassing and shameful as time goes on."

Killam shared the screen with "The Apprentice" ex-host in a parody of Drake's "Hotline Bling" video and even stood next to him in full Trump cosplay for a skit alongside another impressionist, Darrell Hammond. But the comedian found it hard to connect on any level: "He's not an enjoyable person to be around — he's from a different class; he's from a different way of life. There was never any common ground."

The "Single Parents" star also believes that Trump's appearance helped to normalize him in the run-up to his successful election campaign, something which he finds hard to reconcile with: "... I don't think the intention of having him on was ever politically based. I sincerely believe that. But I don't think it was considered — the implications that it had then and could have moving forward. And I think looking back ... there's nothing good I can take from that week."

Will Ferrell admits 'Welcome Back, Kotter' parody bombed

Will Ferrell may have been one of the most popular cast members of the modern "Saturday Night Live" era. But even he wasn't immune from completely bombing from time to time. Take the "Welcome Back, Kotter" parody, for example, which was met with such a tumbleweed response that it never actually made it to air.

When asked on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen" in 2017 about his worst "SNL" sketch, Ferrell freely admitted, "I had many sketches that died, which I kind of perversely loved ... My least favorite was one where I dressed up as Gabe Kaplan from 'Welcome Back, Kotterand I worked in an insurance agency, and he was a client, and I dressed like him because I was his biggest fan."

Ferrell's character then becomes enraged when he learns that the very real Kaplan visited the office without any of his co-workers telling him. It doesn't sound like the most hilarious of set-ups, and that proved to be the case. The "Anchorman" star revealed that it "got zero laughs" in rehearsals and so, no doubt much to his relief, was cut from the broadcast episode.

Julia Sweeney feels bad for breaking character

Julia Sweeney no doubt wishes she could erase one particular sketch from "Saturday Night Live" history, but not because it was terrible. Quite the opposite in fact. The comedian found the antics of her fellow castmate Chris Farley so hilarious that she spent the whole time trying, and mostly failing, to stifle a laugh. And she remains embarrassed at her apparent lack of professionalism.

While appearing at the Groundlings Diversity Festival in 2020, the comedian recalled the skit in which the late Farley played Matt Foley, a motivational speaker tasked with getting Christina Applegate and David Spade's troublemaking teenagers on the straight and narrow. But it was Sweeney, who joined the late Phil Hartman on the sofa as their parents, that ended up being the most misbehaved: She said (via EW), "They had to cut around me because I was laughing. Because it was like I had the best seat in the house for the funniest friggin' thing that was happening on the planet."

When fellow panelist Cheri Oteri pointed out that one of her co-stars was also in hysterics, Sweeney responded, "Yeah, Spade was laughing too. But they were mad at me. They had to change camera angles and that's terrible. That is terrible. I just feel awful about it actually."

Bill Hader regrets playing the then-president of China

In a 2019 interview with Esquire, Bill Hader acknowledged that comedy culture had changed significantly since his stint on "Saturday Night Live": "I mean, everyone and everything is fair game. But in the current environment, there are a lot of things that people don't want to touch. I've talked to a lot of comedy people who now look back at things they did, myself included, where you go, 'Oh, man, I would never do that now.'"

The "Barry" star then brought up the example of Stefon, the club kid who was a frequent guest on "Weekend Update," using a politically-incorrect term for a little person. He then added, "Also, any time I played different ethnicities. By virtue of being a sketch show, we had to do that. But I remember playing Chinese people, and, I mean, there's a lot of stuff that I'm just like ...".

Yes, back in 2010, Hader took over from another Caucasian cast member, Will Forte, as the impersonator of Hu Jintao, the then-president of China, in a sketch. Hader played Hu Jintao just once on the show, but to make matters even worse, Barack Obama was portrayed by Fred Armisen, who isn't Black.

Amy Poehler regrets making light of cerebral palsy

In 2008, Amy Poehler appeared to mock two siblings who have cerebral palsy, Alba and Anastasia Somoza, in the only "Saturday Night Live sketch" she's ever truly regretted. The comedian also incurred the wrath of Academy Award winner Chris Cooper and his wife Marianne Leone Cooper, by mocking a film named "Hurricane Mary" which the actors were working on with the Somoza twins at the time.

Poehler, who was impersonating Dakota Fanning in the sketch, apparently didn't know that the Coopers and the Somozas were working on a movie with that exact same title. Poehler later explained at an event honoring the twins (via People), "Without me quite knowing the correct context of what I was doing and saying, I ended up making a joke about a project that was based on her life ... and Anastasia was watching that night."

The Coopers, whose late son had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, had previously decided to pen a letter detailing their offense at this joke, something which Poehler admitted is "one of the few things in my life that I have a lot of fear about and shame about." The "Parks and Recreation" star apologized for the hurt she'd caused and thanked everyone involved for educating her on the matter.

Jay Mohr admits to plagiarizing a sketch

According to his memoir, "Gasping for Airtime," Jay Mohr had a bit of a nightmare during his two-season spell on "Saturday Night Live." The comedian regularly felt sidelined by the rest of the cast and crew, and one of his few "self-penned" sketches that did make it to the final broadcast ended up getting him in a heap of trouble.

In the 1995 episode hosted by Paul Reiser, Mohr performed the last sketch of the night, dubbed "O'Callahan and Son Pub," that had been blatantly ripped from a routine by stand-up comic Rick Shapiro. How Mohr thought he could get away with plagiarism on one of America's most-watched sketch shows remains a mystery.

Shapiro filed a successful lawsuit, per Mental Floss. Eventually, Mohr came clean about his thievery, writing, "What I did was inexcusable, and no apology in the world could ever make up for it."

Mike Myers apologizes for mocking a young Chelsea Clinton

If you thought that "The Love Guru" was the worst thing Mike Myers had put his name to, think again. In 1992, the Canadian and his regular partner-in-crime Dana Carvey once again assumed their best-loved characters for a "Wayne's World" sketch on "Saturday Night Live." Everything was going smooth until the metalheads reeled off their Top 10 list of things to look forward to with the Clinton presidency.

Sitting at number two was Bill and Hillary's young daughter Chelsea Clinton, who Wayne remarked on in both an unflattering and — given the fact she was only 12 years old at the time — creepy fashion: "While it's true that adolescence has been thus far unkind, we think she's gonna be a future fox."

Understandably, Hillary was livid about her daughter being objectified in such a way. According to the Washington Examiner, she once said, "It's mean and nasty to pick on Chelsea's appearance. I think it's sad that people don't have anything better to do than be mean to a child." Realizing that he'd caused such offense, Myers later wrote an apology letter to the Clintons, telling Maclean's in 1993, "I felt awful. It was not my intention to make fun of a 12-year-old, but to say, 'We think you're a future fox.' That it got misinterpreted sickened me to my stomach."

Julian Bond felt discomfort with race-themed skit

Julian Bond remains one of the most impressive socially-conscious names "Saturday Night Live" has ever invited to host. The civil rights activist, who co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Southern Poverty Law Center, was given the gig during its 1977 second season. Bond joked to The Hollywood Reporter decades later this was a period when "SNL" "was a comedy show, and people would laugh," and "when it had Black people on it."

But the future Georgia state representative was still made to feel uncomfortable with one particular skit, as he explained in the same piece: "Appearing as myself on a mock television interview show about Black issues, I told Garrett Morris, one of [the show's] original 'Not Ready for Prime Time Players,' that light-skinned Blacks are smarter than dark-skinned Blacks."

Bond, who died in 2015, went on to reveal that while Morris fully committed to the routine, he was left squirming in his seat. And his participation still troubled him nearly 40 years after it aired. The politician added, "I believed it treaded dangerously on the fine line between comedy and poor taste."

Alec Baldwin doesn't believe his Trump impression made any impact

Being able to nail an impersonation of Donald Trump appeared to be something of a double-edged sword for Alec Baldwin. The star's regular impression of 45 on "Saturday Night Live" bagged him an Emmy Award and, as he revealed on Kevin Nealon's YouTube show "Hiking with Kevin" in 2019, was initially "fun, fun, fun."

However, the eldest Baldwin brother eventually grew tired of donning that famous wig. So much, in fact, that while sitting in his dressing room waiting to enter the stage as the then-president, he would often hope for the famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza studio to be struck by a meteor. Baldwin explained, "I don't want to do it anymore ... I don't think it's doing anything. It's not doing anything good or bad for him."

Despite his slightly concerning feelings about the role, Baldwin did go on to play Trump on several further occasions before the result of the 2020 presidential election finally helped to put him out of his misery. The "Match Game" host subsequently tweeted, "I don't believe I've ever been this overjoyed to lose a job before!" before adding, "It will be comforting when we have a president who doesn't tweet twice as much as I do."

Frank Zappa hated every minute of his 'SNL' experience

It's difficult to pinpoint one particular sketch that Frank Zappa hated during his "Saturday Night Live" hosting experience in 1978. For the idiosyncratic rocker was thoroughly miserable every minute he was on the famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza set.

Zappa, who'd appeared as a musical guest two years previously, is often cited as one of the show's all-time worst hosts. But according to the interview he gave to Stereo Review magazine (via JamBase) just 12 months after, the experimentalist never really stood a chance: "... It's all designed to accommodate the people who are regulars on the show, so anybody who goes on there to hosts is at a severe disadvantage. Because they never tell you what camera is on, and you're not supposed to memorize your script because they're rewriting right up to show time. And so you're looking at the cue cards, and unless you're used to acting live on TV, you haven't got a prayer; you'll be looking at the wrong camera. It was really hard."

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also claimed that he faced hostility from the "SNL" team — which included the likes of John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Chevy Chase — from the offset: "But no one said anything to my face while I was working on the thing. So they had written dialogue for me to say that I wouldn't normally say; they wouldn't let me write any of my own stuff."

Chris Farley's Chippendales sketch left him riddled with insecurity

For some "Saturday Night Live" viewers, and indeed its writer, the 1990 sketch where Chris Farley competes with Patrick Swayze for a spot in the Chippendales is one of the show's all-time funniest. But according to Chris Rock, it was the moment that sparked the larger-than-life comedian's downfall.

The skit sees Farley and Swayze square off in a shirtless dancing battle to Loverboy's "Working for the Weekend." Although the former proves to be just as nimble as the latter, the brutal judging panel tell him that his frame is too "fat and flabby" for the role. And that's pretty much the punchline. Perhaps little wonder, then, that Farley was apparently left feeling humiliated at this very public display of body-shaming.

In a 2008 biography of the late comedian, his one-time co-star Chris Rock claimed, via The New Yorker, "That was a weird moment in Chris' life. As funny as that sketch was, and as many accolades as he got for it, it's one of the things that killed him. It really is. Something happened right then." It was a point that Rock reiterated during a 2021 interview on "The Howard Stern Show": "He felt ugly, he didn't feel attractive. He didn't feel like people really wanted to be around him and that sketch kind of fed into that." Farley, who repeatedly sought help for obesity during his final years, died in 1997 from a drug overdose.

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Damon Wayans Sr. sabotaged a sketch he disliked

Although he was brought into the "Saturday Night Live" fold as a replacement for one of its most successful graduates, Damon Wayans Sr. felt he was constantly being sidelined by Lorne Michaels. And after the executive producer insisted that he change his pastel-colored suit in a "Miami Vice" parody to a cop uniform, the funnyman decided to unleash his inner saboteur.

When the 1986 sketch dubbed "Mr. Monopoly" was performed live, Wayans Sr. threw everyone off course by playing his character both effeminately and wildly OTT. The comedian told Weekender in 2015 that he'd found the original script unfunny and although his act of rebellion provided few laughs either, it was something he needed to do: "I was angry. That's the reason why it wasn't funny, because I do a funny flamboyant character. It wasn't funny because I was angry ... It was right after Eddie Murphy left the show and they weren't letting me do things that he would do. So, I went against the script. That was my frustration."

Wayans Sr. was dismissed from "SNL" almost immediately having only appeared in a dozen episodes, an outcome he admits was both justified and desired. Despite ending his stint on the comedic institution in acrimonious circumstances, the "In Living Color" star still returned as host nine years later.