SNL boss Lorne Michaels fought to air 'Schweddy Balls' early in the show
Our mouth is watering just thinking about our favorite Christmas treat: Schweddy balls.
An infamous 1998 Saturday Night Live sketch finds Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, and Alec Baldwin coming together on NPR’s Delicious Dish for a hilariously naive discussion of Pete Schweddy’s (Baldwin) beloved — and awkwardly named —holiday confections. For some fans, “Schweddy Balls” is as much a part of holiday tradition as watching It’s a Wonderful Life or trimming the tree. But it almost was banished to the late hours of the night, according to Gasteyer.
SNL famously front-loads its show, placing its strongest sketches earlier with the assumption that viewers drop off as it gets later into the night. (This was even more relevant when the show only aired at 11:30 p.m. on all coasts and social media didn’t exist to make any sketch go viral.) It’s possible “Schweddy Balls” would have sunk into obscurity if NBC’s standards and practices department, which evaluates shows to help decide what is appropriate to air, had its way.
“Lorne very graciously fought for ‘Schweddy Balls,’” Gasteyer tells EW. “Standards and practices did not want to put it right at the top of the show. [Traditionally], racier content will play after midnight. I don’t know if that’s still the case. 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. So that’s a huge honor.”
Gasteyer has a long association with SNL and the holiday season. In addition to the “Schweddy Balls” sketch, she also appeared in other seasonal classics like her numerous Martha Stewart parodies (most notably one in which the domestic goddess is topless) and holiday protestor Cinder Calhoun. She says she loves this time of year, but more than anything, it’s just luck that made her a part of so many memorable SNL holiday sketches.
“It was kind of a happy accident that I ended up writing a lot of material at the holidays,” she recalls. “I must obviously have an affinity for this time of year because I clearly seem to produce the most around here. The ‘Martha Stewart Topless Christmas’ was probably my first breakout sketch on the show. That came out early November, I think, of my first season… I definitely feel very grateful that they have an annual association and that people find them funny [and they have had longevity].”
Her love for the holidays doesn’t end with SNL. Gasteyer has been busy spreading cheer this year, dropping a holiday album and an Audible Original comedy series, both titled Sugar & Booze. Oh, and then there’s that very festive gig involving a tree and a certain singing competition.
But Gasteyer’s love of “Schweddy Balls” will always be the first thing we think of when we consider her and the holidays.