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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.