‘Saturday Night Live’: The Sketchy Reason Volkswagen Asked ‘SNL’ Writers to Remove Nazi References

by Jeremy Spirogis
Colin Jost and Michael Che of Saturday Night Live

Colin Jost has labored at Saturday Night Live, NBC’s decades-running sketch present, for about 15 years. Jost, who has served as co-head author and co-host of the “Weekend Update” phase, lately launched his memoir, titled A Very Punchable Face. In the ebook, the SNL author and performer outlines a number of cases through which he and different writers modified or scrapped jokes after testy interactions with advertisers. Volkswagen, for instance, had one of many strangest requests.

‘Saturday Night Live’ episodes — and ‘Weekend Update’ jokes — that have been altered on account of advert accomplice intervention

Colin Jost and Michael Che of Saturday Night Live
Colin Jost and Michael Che on the 70th Emmy Awards in 2018 | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Journalist Seth Simons, who usually writes about misdeeds within the comedy universe on his SubStack, revealed an extended excerpt from Jost’s 2020 ebook, A Very Punchable Face, that reveals an awesome deal about Saturday Night Live’s relationship to its advert companions.

After McDonald’s requested the SNL writers to change a joke about their firm, the automotive model Volkswagen bought in on it, too. The joke in query, nevertheless, didn’t even point out Volkswagen — which makes it all of the weirder. Here’s Jost’s unique joke:

Publishers introduced that in lower than per week, the brand new version of Adolf Hitler’s ebook Mein Kampf has offered out of the primary 4,000 copies. Mein Kampf is after all German for The Art of the Deal

From that line, which Jost learn at SNL’s gown rehearsal, they “got a note from Volkswagen.”

“They were advertising on the show and they said, ‘Could you not refer to Adolf Hitler? Because if you mention Hitler, then people will think of Nazis and then they’ll think of Volkswagen,’” Jost wrote. (For those who don’t know, Hitler had an in depth relationship with the model, significantly the VW Beetle).

Volkswagen’s advert partnership with NBC prevented a parody business from being aired

Volkswagen and HitlerVolkswagen and Hitler
Adolf Hitler admires a mannequin of the Volkswagen automotive | Hoffmann/Getty Images

RELATED: Former ‘Saturday Night Live’ Writers Say They ‘Worked Harder’ Than the Current Writers

However, issues heated up much more a number of weeks down the road. Jost wrote:

There was a Republican debate sketch the place Ted Cruz was speaking concerning the sorts of issues New Yorkers do, and every little thing he listed was clearly only a plot line from Seinfeld. And Volkswagen requested our present to take away a reference to the ‘Soup Nazi’ as a result of they thought that would remind individuals of Volkswagen. Hmmmm. I’m wondering in the event that they’re hiding one thing? Because that degree of paranoia is . . . properly, Hitler-esque.

As Jost quickly came upon, the corporate was certainly “hiding something!”

“They had been lying for years about emissions figures on many of their cars,” the Saturday Night Live star continued. “And they had designed software to trick inspectors into thinking their vehicles were compliant.”

Jost and some different SNL writers jumped on the chance to jot down “a Volkswagen commercial parody.” In the voiceover to the parody advert, viewers would have heard the next:

Sure, Volkswagen has gotten in a little bit of bother lately with this entire emissions scandal, however let’s not overlook what our firm was based on: the imaginative and prescient and values of Adolf Hitler.

However, Saturday Night Live viewers by no means bought to see this sketch.

“The Volkswagen Corporation … [was] about to sign a huge advertising deal with NBC, so even though the ad was fully produced, we were never allowed to air it,” Jost wrote in A Very Punchable Face.

‘Saturday Night Live’ solid member and author Colin Jost appears to have missed why that is vital

As Simons identified, whereas this doesn’t qualify as “branded content” — which the present’s writers have denied they make the most of — “this anecdote demonstrates the wide-ranging veto energy loved by SNL’s advertisers.” The author continued:

It additionally reveals how they don’t essentially must wield that energy actively: the mere prospect of dropping future business can disincentivize SNL from airing trenchant satire.

Colin Jost of Saturday Night Live and Scarlett Johansson of being an actressColin Jost of Saturday Night Live and Scarlett Johansson of being an actress
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost on the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards | Steve Granitz/WireImage

Simons sums up this entire story very properly, whereas concurrently skewering Saturday Night Live for capitulating to their advertisers’ wants (irrespective of how overtly terrible these corporations are):

Upon discovering how an organization that paid his payments deliberately violated emissions requirements to get away with large air pollution, Jost wrote a sketch calling that firm evil. His bosses then censored the sketch so they may take extra of the corporate’s cash and proceed hawking its merchandise—after its crimes grew to become public!

It’s not an awesome search for SNL. What’s even weirder, maybe, is that Jost appears to jot down about all of it so frivolously in his memoir.

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