Ana Gasteyer says one of Saturday Night Live’s most famous holiday sketches almost didn’t make it to air early in the show.
The actress and comedian told Entertainment Weekly that “Schweddy Balls,” the iconic 1998 holiday sketch that she co-starred in with Molly Shannon and Alec Baldwin, was considered too racy when it was first written. However, SNL showrunner Lorne Michaels fought with NBC for it to be aired before midnight. EW notes the late-night show’s “strongest” sketches traditionally air in the first half-hour before viewership drops off later in the night.
“Lorne very graciously fought for ‘Schweddy Balls,'” Gasteyer said. “Standards and Practices did not want to put it right at the top of the show. [Traditionally], racier content will play after midnight. …But [Michaels] so correctly understood that the characters were naive to the usage of the word ‘balls’ that he fought really hard and successfully to have it air before midnight, which I really appreciated. He always goes to the mat for work that deserves it.”
The classic sketch about a fictional NPR series Delicious Dish was written by Gasteyer and originally aired during SNL’s 24th season on December 12, 1998. Baldwin played Delicious Dish guest Pete Schweddy, a baker, and Shannon was Gasteyer’s co-host in the double-entendre filled episode about holiday confections with a super awkward name.
“My mouth’s watering just thinking about those balls,” Gasteyer’s characters says of the holiday treats.
“Over at Seasons Eatings, we have balls for every taste,” Baldwin’s Schweddy character adds. “Do whatever you want to them, ladies. My balls are here for your pleasure.”
Gasteyer told EW that it was “kind of a happy accident” that she ended up writing a lot of material at the holidays during her run on SNL from 1996 to 2002. The comedian named “Martha Stewart Topless Christmas” as her breakout sketch on the show, but fans will never forget “Schweddy Balls,” which became a permanent part of pop culture history with an ice cream flavor named in its honor.
In 2011, Ben & Jerry’s released the Limited Batch “Schweddy Balls” ice cream flavor, according to Time. But the vanilla ice cream with rum and fudge malt balls was shelved by some supermarket chains due to its questionable name. The Ben & Jerry’s website still has a tribute to its “dead and buried” Schweddy Balls flavor on its “graveyard” page, with a link to resurrect the controversial flavor.
Twenty years after “Schweddy Balls,” Baldwin is still a recurring guest star on Saturday Night Live as he parodies Donald Trump in SNL cold opens. The 2019 holiday episode will feature guest host Scarlett Johansson and musical guest Niall Horan, but fans would love to see a cameo by Pete Schweddy.