‘SNL’ Refused to Air Sketch About The Avengers Killing an Unarmed Black Teen

Michael Che recalls some of the controversial sketch concepts that never made it to air on SNL.

As the head writer at Saturday Night Live for the last five years, Michael Che has been behind some of the show’s most memorably irreverent sketches. But not everything from the mind of an SNL writer makes it off the cutting room floor.

In a new interview with Howard Stern, the Weekend Update host recalls some of the more racially charged sketches that have been too controversial to be aired. This included one in which Marvel’s Avengers accidentally kill an unarmed black teen. “I think for obvious reasons there’s no way that’s going on,” Che tells the radio titan. “The audience is looking at Saturday Night Live as Lorne Michaels’s show. They’re not looking at it as ‘Oh there’s this Black writer who is making this nuanced observation or whatever.’ It’s a little trickier,” the comedian explains.

Che goes on to note how he learned to set up racial commentary in sketches from Dave Chappelle. “He was talking about when he did his show he would set it up in stand up and that way the whole sketch would just be punchlines,” Che notes. “I was like, ‘That’s genius.’ But, on SNL you can’t really do that because it’s a variety show so there is no person that’s really leading it in,” the comedian admits. Fortunately for Che, he now has his own show to test premises that may have been deemed too risky for late-night. That Damn Michael Che launched with a six-episode debut season earlier this month. It’s available to stream via HBO and HBO Max today.

Watch Michael Che recall some of the sketch concepts that never made it to air below and head over to SiriusXM to hear his full interview with Howard Stern.


Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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