Saturday Night Live’s Cringiest Moments


One of the major reasons fans keep tuning into Saturday Night Live each week is right there in the name. No matter how much the actors might have rehearsed, the show that we see each week is recorded live. If nothing else, this adds a level of tension and excitement for audiences as we wait to see if anyone flubs a line or just breaks down and starts laughing mid-skit.

Sometimes, though, the moments that disrupt an SNL broadcast are anything but funny. Throughout the decades, the show has had some awkward moments that leave us cringing in sympathy. Ready to do a little cringing yourself? Keep reading to discover 

Kanye West’s Pro-Trump Rant

Before the internet and digital cameras became ubiquitous, a post-show speech such as this might have faded into obscurity. However, Kanye West’s Pro-Trump diatribe, delivered while donning a Make America Great Again hat, was captured and preserved for posterity. As the evening’s musical guest, Kanye took the stage to deliver a speech that left many feeling disheartened. His remarks, which received a mixed response of boos and cheers from the audience, praised Trump as a personal source of inspiration while also suggesting that the President harbored racist views.

Norm Macdonald went off on the show after getting fired

Norm Macdonald had a very topsy-turvy relationship with Saturday Night Live. The actor and comedian became a household name thanks to his time on the show thanks to how funny his Weekend Update segments were. Not everyone felt that way, though, including an NBC executive who fired Macdonald in 1998 because “you’re not funny.”

The very next year, Macdonald was invited to host the show. Instead of treating this as a chance for SNL to gracefully make amends, the actor went off on the entire show, rhetorically asking “How did I go in a year and a half from being not funny enough to be even allowed in the building to being so funny that I’m now hosting the show?”

Not done with the skewering, Macdonald said “I haven’t gotten funnier. The show has gotten really bad.” To a mixture of cheers and jeers, he ended the monologue by saying “The bad news is I’m still not funny. The good news is the show blows!”

Ashlee Simpson’s shameless lip-syncing

Normally, being a musical guest on Saturday Night Live is great for a singer’s career. They get to perform on a show watched by millions of people, and that kind of attention can take a musical career to the next level. In the case of Ashlee Simpson, however, her 2004 appearance as an SNL musical guest nearly destroyed her career right as it was taking off.

She had performed her first song, and everything went without a hitch. However, when she took to the stage to play “Autobiography,” audiences could hear the first song (“Pieces of Me”) begin to play. This instantly confirmed she was lip-synching instead of actually singing, and after she tried to save face by doing a weird dance, the singer walked offstage in a cloud of shame that followed her for a good, long time.

Kristen Stewart said the F-word almost right away

Kristen Stewart has continued to impress as an actor long after she dazzled the world in the Twilight series of films. As her star rose higher and higher, it only made sense to invite her to host Saturday Night Live in 2017. However, during her opening monologue, she had a moment that shocked and surprised us more than shiny vampires ever did.

Most of the monologue went well, and Stewart had a great vibe with SNL actors Kate McKinnon and Aida Bryant. They were all riffing on the joke that Stewart was “too cool for school” thanks to her status as a major Hollywood actor. Finishing up the monologue, Stewart said “I totally care that I’m here ‘cause it’s the coolest f***ing—“, abruptly cutting herself off and throwing a hand over her mouth as she realized she dropped an F-bomb on live television.

Fortunately for Stewart, everyone from the SNL cast to audiences watching at home thought the unexpected vulgarity was downright hilarious.

Christina Ricci punched an actor in the face

When a skit goes wrong on Saturday Night Live, it’s not always clear whether a mistake happened or whether this was all part of the plan. Other times, though, it’s immediately clear that something went wrong. When Christina Ricci hosted the show in 1999 and ended up nearly punching an actor out, it was clear that the scene had gone off the rails.

She was performing in a sketch in which (quite ironically) she was supposed to be a wild teen appearing on an episode of Sally. Ana Gasteyer played Sally Jessy Raphael, and Ricci was supposed to hit her with a fake punch in a moment of anger. Instead of pulling her punch as planned, though, Ricci ended up punching Gasteyer in the nose, causing her to recoil and Ricci to cover her mouth in shock before both of them reluctantly finished the scene. 

Martin Lawrence got his monologue banned

Back in 1994, Martin Lawrence was arguably at the height of his career. It only made sense, then, to have him host Saturday Night Live. It was only went the actor went wildly off-script that producers realized what a bad idea this really was.

Out of nowhere, Lawrence started talking about vaginas…specifically, how and when to clean them. This crazy rant began with “I’m sorry, y’all, you’ve got to wash properly,” and it only got weirder from there as he started talking about yeast infections, douching, and apparently everything that flitted through his head. The results were almost instantaneous: the show banned the monologue for its new release of the episode, and Lawrence was banned from appearing on NBC for a very long time.

Tiger Woods Skit

While many topics can be humorously approached, it’s important to recognize when a joke crosses the line into poor taste. “SNL’s” skit satirizing Tiger Woods’ infidelity and subsequent car accident, which occurred on the night his wife Elin Woods discovered his behavior, received criticism for its insensitivity. In the sketch, Kenan Thompson portrayed a visibly distressed Woods offering a series of apologetic press conferences, gradually appearing more battered, alongside Blake Lively’s Elin, insinuating her involvement in his injuries. Mixing domestic violence with comedy can be problematic, as demonstrated by “Saturday Night Live’s” sketch.

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