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SNL Sketch Showdown: Schweddy Balls vs. Nude Beach


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Welcome to the “Saturday Night Live” Sketch Showdown. Every weekday, an IFC writer will determine the winner of a matchup between two classic “SNL” sketches. You can check out the full bracket here.

Risqué Business

By definition, over the years “Saturday Night Live” has become known for a wide variety of things. Any show that’s been on the air for 38 seasons can’t afford to sit still and be predictable. That’s how you lose ratings and audience members — the moment you start to become dependable. “SNL,” then, has the unenviable task of trying to be controversial (when it’s called for) but also observing the standards and practices’ rules and regulations (always). So, how does a late-night comedy show intended for adults (and comedy-enamored teens) stay relevant and surprising while also able to be safely discussed around the proverbial water cooler or playground without incurring the wrath of HR reps or eavesdropping adults? These two sketches, airing a decade apart, explore two very different ways of honoring a time-tested comedy favorite: dick jokes.

The Matchup

“Nude Beach,” a 1988 Conan O’Brien-penned sketch was a scene that couldn’t be held back. It has a fairly interesting history (it was originally written for a Carl Weathers-hosted episode but then later quashed), and has a lot of significance for the show — fan favorites like “Schweddy Balls” (which this is up against) and “Dick in a Box” couldn’t have existed without this: The show’s first sketch where the word penis is said on air. It’s spoken a total of 48 times, and in a lesser troupe’s hands, the humor could have been lost. In the sketch, Matthew Broderick is unwinding at a nude beach with some friends of his. There’s a fence obscuring their phalluses, but that doesn’t matter: They are talking about each other’s penises. For the whole scene. Nobody is making fun of anyone’s penises. It’s just a couple of guys talking guy-talk: “Jack, what have you done with your penis? It looks super!” “Oh, I go to this place on Long Island. They do great work.” “Wow. You got the address?” Sure.” “Great. I’ll write it on my penis so I won’t forget.” It’s all done completely straight-faced, which amplifies the joke exponentially. There’s probably a joke in here to make about how long Jimmy Fallon would have lasted in a sketch about penises, but now I just have penises on the brain so I’ll figure that out later after I penis.

1998’s “Schweddy Balls,” on the other hand, is no slouch. It featured Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon reprising their popular “Delicious Dish” NPR hosts for another sketch mocking the stuffiness that station often ladles out ample portions of. Alec Baldwin plays Pete Schweddy, who is guesting on their show to explain how his holiday-treat balls are made — and boy oh boy do those ladies love those Schweddy balls. This scene trades more heavily in double entendres and is extremely silly, and somehow never lapses into just being juvenile — even though there’s no mistaking this scene for high satire.

And The Winner Is…

“Nude Beach.” In some respects, it might seem like this comes down to dick jokes against balls jokes, but I disagree. Both sketches are funny, no doubt about it, but “Schweddy Balls” is more of a joke (“So, there’s this NPR guy whose last name is Schweddy. He’s a cook who makes delicious balls…”), whereas “Nude Beach” is a stronger scene, structurally. There is a problem that’s dealt with (Kevin Nealon is worried his penis is too small, a woman tells him it doesn’t really matter), the stakes are raised, and all that good stuff sketches should have. But, as mentioned above, it’s also historically more significant for the show’s history. “Penis” was said 43 times and the sketch provoked 46,000 letters. You can’t argue with those numbers — it got a big reaction. Contrast this with Baldwin later reprising his role again, this time unleashing his Schweddy wieners onto the world. But by then, the whole gag was getting a little sweaty.

Did the right sketch win? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…