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SNL Sketch Showdown: Schweddy Balls vs. Nude Beach

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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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.

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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…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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