'SNL' Awkwardly Notes (Not Mocks) Fear of Drawing Muhammad

NBC's Saturday Night Live awkwardly made fun of things you just cannot depict at risk of death. In a TV game show called Picture Perfect -- that looked a little like Pictionary and a little like NBC's own Hollywood Game Night -- cast member Bobby Moynihan (complete with Chris Farley-esque hair) was asked to draw an image of "The Prophet Muhammad."

"Hilarity" ensued when he and fellow cast member Kenan Thompson (playing actor Reginald VelJohnson of Die Hard and Family Matters) refused to comply and risk being murdered by jihadists:

Moynihan's character protested when he wouldn't draw: "I don't think I can. Maybe, pass?" The game show host said "You cannot pass!"

This kind of humor just notes something that cannot be mocked. It doesn't dare to cross a line. It doesn't protest that no one can cross the line. It somehow tries to laugh at how the line exists, and no one dares to cross.

It's quite similar to a not-really-a-joke bit during the "Weekend Update" segment on May 2. Anchorman Colin Jost brought up the Bruce Jenner "I'm a woman" interview on ABC and then awkwardly stated “It was a moving and brave interview, and obviously it’s a delicate subject to talk about. But as a comedy show, we need to make jokes about it, so here we go.”

The gag was he couldn't offer any comedy, and co-anchor Michael Che refused to join the conversation. There was a “cruel” joke in there when Jost stammered into saying “any way you slice it,” and Che replied off camera “No! Do not say slice it!”

In the same fake newscast, Jost showed no fear in trashing Justice Samuel Alito for asking plaintiffs for “gay marriage” what would happen if two men and two women came to apply for a polygamous marriage license:

JOST: Well, Sam, I’m no legal expert, but they’d probably tell them “no,” because that’s polygamy and that’s illegal and also not at all the same thing. So let’s stick to the case at hand and not try to turn this whole thing into some kind of gay word problem. If the gay marriage train leaves Massachusetts at 3 pm, and the traditional-marriage train leaves Tennessee at 6 pm – it doesn’t matter, because look around you! Everyone’s already on the gay train! (Laughter, whoops, applause).

A few seconds later, lesbian cast member Kat McKinnon did her recurring impression of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and also mocked states who want to keep the definition of traditional marriage. Jost brought up Kentucky, and she cracked: "Kentucky! Real 21st century state! I could call out that their most famous citizen is a fried-chicken salesman who looks like he should be sippin’ iced tea at a slave auction, but I’m not gonna go there. And by there I mean Kentucky!"

Censorship Mohammed Cartoons Religion Islam NBC Saturday Night Live Bobby Moynihan Taran Killam
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