Saturday Night Live: 30 scandals and secrets you didn’t know

Saturday Night Live (Photo by NBC Television/Getty Images)
Saturday Night Live (Photo by NBC Television/Getty Images) /
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Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor (Photo: NBC)
Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor (Photo: NBC) /

16. Richard Pryor’s offensive word association

Richard Pryor is a legend in the field of comedy. His stand-up is unparalleled and continues to inspire comics to this day. You would be hard-pressed to find someone with anything bad to say about him these days. But early in the show’s run, Pryor created some controversy when he appeared in a word association sketch on SNL.

This infamous sketch paired host Richard Pryor with cast member Chevy Chase. Chase had been demanding a scene be written for him and Richard, as most of the other cast were having their own moments with him. So one of the new writers penned a skit based on his grueling interview process from NBC to get the SNL writing gig.

Pryor is applying to be a janitor, and Chase is the boss conducting the job interview. It starts off innocently enough, but takes a turn into racial territory. Chase brings up one ethnic slur about blacks— Pryor retorts with a slur for whites. They bicker back and forth, using the controversial N-word right there on television.

The sketch ends with Pryor getting hired with a very high salary. Chase ends the interview by asking him, “Please don’t hurt me.” Unlike the last entry on our list, this on-air language would never go without sparking controversy and Pryor’s use was no different.