Every week, some SNL sketches don’t make it to air due to time constraints and/or the mercurial whims of Lorne Michaels.
This weekend, one of the victims was this First Take sketch, which ended up on YouTube only. In it, Chris Redd’s Stephen A. Smith and Kenan Thompson’s Michael Irvin debate topics like “Tom Brady: Exceptional or Very Exceptional” while Chloe Fineman’s Molly Qerim attempts to remind the debaters that for most of the population, it’s morning, and people shouting on television isn’t pleasant.
There are obviously some great elements here. First Take is essentially a sketch comedy on its own, so it’s a natural target, and Redd and Thompson both do excellent work in their roles. (As they did last week for the NBA on TNT sketch.) Fineman plays the exasperated host who can’t believe there’s still hours to fill very well, serving as sort of the voice of anyone who has ever had to endure First Take against their will. (So, people who write about sports media and those in automotive shop waiting rooms, basically.)
She also sets up arguably the sketches funniest moment, mentioning that Smith and Irvin sound like they’ve been hit with a bulldozer of cocaine. Irvin: “Hey, don’t threaten me with a good time.”
Watching it, you can see why it was cut, though. Will Forte is shoehorned in as a sports blog writer, and while he tries to put his usual offbeat spin on the role, there’s just not much to it. And there isn’t much to the entire premise other than literally just doing what First Take does already: two people shouting at loud volume for a long time about sports “debates” for hours every day. The little character notes work but are too few, the Forte character was unnecessary, and the whole thing just felt too broad as it went along.
Hopefully they try again in the future. If anything they should lean even further into the absurdity.