'Uncomfortable' Cecily Strong Backs Out of 'SNL' Cold Open Cameo
Here’s one we haven’t heard before. Former SNL star Cecily Strong was so “uncomfortable” with a political cold open sketch last weekend that she declined to be in it -- despite playing the role in dress rehearsal just hours earlier.
The sketch in question spoofed the event earlier in the week in which three college presidents floundered through questions about antisemitism and free speech on campus. Strong would have played Rep. Elise Stefanik, who in the sketch’s words would be “screaming questions at these women like I’m Billy Eichner.” Newcomer Chloe Troast stepped in for Strong at the last minute.
Why the change of heart? Strong, who hasn’t shied away from controversial SNL sketches in the past, hasn’t commented publicly. The New York Post cites a “TV source” as saying, “Cecily was uncomfortable with the sketch.” The Post also quotes “another insider,” who said, “There were a variety of reasons, and last minute Cecily pulled out of the cold open.”
Another person who was uncomfortable with the sketch? Unsurprisingly, that’s Rep. Stefanik. One of Stefanik’s top advisors told the Daily Mail that the representative hadn’t actually watched the sketch, but found plenty to hate about it nonetheless. The spokesperson, Alex DeGrasse, reported that Stefanik’s office was 'flooded' with messages from both sides of the aisle who were “appalled and disgusted by the antisemitic trash spewed by unfunny, morally bankrupt 'comedians.’'' Considering that Stefanik herself was one of the main people being spoofed, let’s take that with a grain of salt.
The Wrap, providing a less partisan take than either the New York Post or Daily Mail, noted that the sketch only drew lukewarm laughs from the SNL audiences. Conservatives have gone hard with social-media criticism of the cold open as antisemitic, notes The Wrap, citing an online comment that said “This sketch was very similar to the university presidents themselves: afraid of offending someone, thus pissing off everyone.”
Not surprisingly, Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld smells blood. Never a fan of comedy on the mainstream networks, Gutfeld took to X yesterday to pile on, accusing SNL of “siding with Ivy League neoracists.”
One theory for Strong’s departure: The story was developing in real time -- one of the university presidents resigned hours before the sketch aired live -- so Strong may not have been comfortable with the evolving nature of the situation. Could the lack of laughs at dress rehearsal have contributed to the decision?
One thing that all the news sources agree on, at least for now: There’s no official comment from either Strong or Saturday Night Live.