These seven hosts ended up either angering TV censors, NBC, or viewers with their controversial opening monologues
"Saturday Night Live" tends to push the envelope when it comes to their sketches and comedy -- but the show tries to avoid crossing over into straight-up controversy.
However, throughout the show's 48 seasons, there have been a handful of guests who have given an opening monologue that seemed to cross that line for some viewers.
Find out what went down during seven of these controversial monologues…
Dave Chappelle is known for his controversial comedy and he didn't hold back during his "SNL" monologue in 2020. During his 16-minute stand up opener, Dave delved into topics like the pandemic and gun violence. At one point he said he needed to thank God for COVID because it kept "murderous whites" from causing mass shootings. He also compared Donald Trump's bout with COVID to Freddie Mercury’s AIDS battle, expressing that both diagnoses should have come as no surprise.
While his monologue got mixed reviews, when he took the stage in 2022, he once again pushed the envelope. This time, his stand up focused on the recent rise of anti-semitism and Kanye West's controversial comments about the Jewish community. Although he did denounce anti-Semitism, many of his jokes about Jewish culture didn't sit well with viewers, with some saying it was desensitizing people to anti-Semitism.
Woody Harrelson's "SNL" monologue sparked controversy for a joke he made that appeared to be about the COVID lockdown and vaccine. During his time on stage, Woody recounted the "craziest script" he had been sent right before the pandemic -- and for many viewers it seemed to be a direct allusion to the pandemic.
'The movie goes like this: the biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes, and people can only come out if they take the cartel's drugs and keep taking them over and over," Woody said of the supposed script. "I threw the script away. I mean, who is going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day long."
3. Louis C.K.
In 2015, Louis C.K. took the "SNL" stage and ended up receiving major backlash for his opening monologue where he called himself "mildly racist" and seemed to make fun of child molestation. He reflected on his childhood when he was offended that a child molester in his hometown didn't like him and then went on to ponder why child molesters continue to commit these crimes. He went as far as to say that doing such a terrible act with such high risk must feel amazing for them -- and even he knew his joke had gone too far.
"From their point of view, it must be amazing for them to risk so much," he said before adding, "It's my last show, probably."
4. Bill Burr
When Bill Burr made his "SNL" debut in 2020, he chose to cover an array of controversial topics during his monologue. After calling out cancel culture for being ridiculous, he moved on to condemn white women who have "hijacked the woke movement." He explained that the woke movement was supposed to be about the unjust treatment of people of color but now he's "never heard so much complaining in my life from white women" -- and even called them "bitches.'
He also got heat for saying that the LGBTQ community got the month of June for Pride while Black history month only gets February. He reasoned that "Black people were actually enslaved" and are only getting "28 days of overcast weather," calling for Black history month to move to July.
5. Sam Kinison
Back in 1986, Sam Kinison took the "SNL" stage and a lot of his monologue ended up getting censored. At the time, it was required that all references to drugs be done so in a negative manner and Sam's comments about the legalization of marijuana didn't fly. Instead, the opening segment was awkwardly edited to avoid the remarks, which included the audio and picture being cut for about 13 seconds.
"When you work on network TV you have to play by the rules and Sam didn't play by the rules," Lorne Michaels told AP. "They didn't consider his drug references negative enough. The policy at NBC now is that the only references to drugs must be negative…My reaction was mixed because Sam hadn't done the joke at dress so the censors were unprepared."
6. Chris Rock
When Chris Rock hosted "SNL" in 2014, viewers didn't appreciate his jokes about the Boston marathon bombings that had happened just the year prior. On top of that, he also commented on 9/11, joking about how the Freedom Tower had been built as a memorial to those lost in the tragedy. He joked that the new tower's "corporate sponsor" must have been Target and added that he would never go inside even if "Scarlett Johansson is butt naked on the 89th floor."
Martin Lawrence received a temporary ban from NBC for his controversial opening monologue when he hosted the show in 1994. While kicking off the episode, he poked fun at what the censors had warned him not to say before going on a bizarre and graphic rant about feminine hygiene.
"I don't give a damn…I'm not banned from 'SNL.' They banned me from NBC at the time for a minute. But then they realized the way it went down wasn't what they thought and then they sent me an apology letter," Martin later said on the "Breakfast Club."