Saturday Night Live has been an icon of American television since its debut in 1975. The use of prominent celebrities comedically covering politics and popular happenings has created a zeitgeist of each era since then. One of the most important celebrities to SNL is Alec Baldwin. Alec was born on April 3rd, 1958, making him the oldest of the four Baldwin brothers. He has had an extremely successful career from movies to stage performances and television. He hosted SNL a whopping 17 times, which is more than any other celebrity. Most recently, he is known for playing Donald trump in season 42. He has appeared in many classics since his first skit in 1990, including my personal favorite- Schweddy balls.
On December 12th, 1980, SNL released the Schweddy Balls skit. Alec Baldwin played a man named Pete Schweddy, who owned a Christmas themed bakery called Seasons Eatings. He was accompanied by Ana Gasteyer (who played Margaret Jo McCullen) and Molly Shannon (who played Teri Rialto). The women played roles of 2 National Public Radio host?s who ran a bit called ?The Delicious Dish.? Pete is featured on the show to present his best selling holiday treat ? his Schweddy balls. The punchline of the joke hits as he asks the women if they would like to try his schweddy balls. They obliviously make comments on the size, shape, scent, and taste of the balls without realizing the connotation to male genitalia. At the end, he even offers them a ?schweddy ballsack? to which Teri says would be a perfect gift for her niece.
A trifecta of elements made this skit so funny and impactful. Firstly, all three actors have a serious commitment to not breaking character. Unlike other SNL hosts who can?t help but laugh at their own skits (yes Ryan Gosling, we?re talking about you) these 3 never even crack a smile when they aren?t supposed to. This helps the audience take the skit seriously as well which leads to the uncontrollable laughter at the things said like ?Wow. I can?t wait to get my mouth around his Balls!?? Secondly, while the main point of the joke revolves around the balls, there is also hidden comedy in the setting. ?The Delicious Dish? is a reoccurring skit that has been used 15 times. One purpose of these skits is to mock the National Public Radio. Margaret Jo and Teri are extremely bland women with dull lives. One example of this is when Margaret Jo says ?I like to leave Santa some tap water and rice. If Santa?s anything like me, Christmas foods really reek havoc on the ol? digestive system.? This is done to impose that the hosts of the real NPR don?t really have exciting lives, and likely it?s listeners too. You must also take into account that the theoretical ?audience? to this skit would be listening to this on a radio station, without the visuals. They would not be able to see that the balls were candy treats and not genitalia, which could lead to comedic confusion when things like ?My balls are here for your pleasure? are said. Overall, the fine acting, play on word of balls, and the mockery of NPR make this skit hilarious classic.
This skit started on SNL and grew into something much larger than an on-screen giggle. Aside from the millions of views this skit received on youtube, there was also fan merchandise created. The most impressive one was when Ben and Jerry?s launched an ice cream flavor called ?Schweddy Balls? that contained a replicated version of Pete?s classic holiday rum balls in 2011. People were actually able to go out to a store and purchase this for their family (my mother was not overjoyed that it was my favorite flavor as a 12 year old.) If you look on Amazon, you?ll find ?Pete?s Schweddy Balls? logo written across t-shirts and holiday sweaters. Alec Baldwin became so connotated with this skit that he once said in an interview ?For a long time, I thought that ?Here Lies Pete Schweddy? would end up on my tombstone!? Lastly, after the wild popularity of the skit, the creators decided to make a second installment in 2001. Pete Schweddy returned to The Delicious Dish to show them his infamous Schweddy Weiner. There are just as many outrageous lines to laugh at, like when he says ?There?s nothing quite like the look on a child?s face the moment he gets a hold of his own Schweddy weiner.? Schweddy Balls is not just another SNL skit, it is something you can watch, wear and taste!
This skit proves that SNL can take even the blandest topic, an NPR radio special, and turn it into something hysterical. They have created hundreds of episodes and thousands of skits but only a small minority have reached the impact level of schweddy balls. The use of an SNL superstar Alec Baldwin made the skit initially interesting, as almost all of his work on SNL is golden. Add in two fantastic actresses who don?t break character to give the skit the most potential and references to balls that can make anyone from a middle schooler to a grown man giggle, And you?ve got yourself an SNL classic. A classic that stretched so far one of America?s favorite ice cream companies created a flavor for it. This holiday season, make sure to wear a festive Schweddy sweater and savor a nice taste of Pete?s schweddy balls.