Saturday Night Live sketch rejected by Betty White gets a second chance

Jason Sudeikis (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
Jason Sudeikis (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images) /

Seth Meyers’s Second Chance Theatre gave new life to another Saturday Night Live reject

Saturday Night Live fans know that there are thousands of sketches from the favorite writers and performers that have never seen the light of day. Thankfully, Late Night with Seth Meyers has become a home for such sketches deemed misfits and cast-offs.

“Second Chance Theatre” is one of Late Night with Seth Meyers‘s most popular segments. Seth Meyers has used his Saturday Night Live connections to give new life to sketches that either died at the read-through or at the dress rehearsal.

We’ve seen Andy Samberg, Will Forte, and Jason Sudeikis all get another shot to prove why their sketch ideas deserved to be seen. Whether or not they were right is up to the Late Night studio audience and the millions of people who watch the sketches online.

Sudeikis was back on Monday night’s Late Night along with former cast member and writer Mike O’Brien. O’Brien joined SNL in 2009 first as a writer and then a performer for season 39 before returning the writers’ room until 2015. O’Brien brought to “Second Chance Theatre” a sketch originally rejected by Betty White and bombed and only did “medium” with Will Ferrell.

The sketch had a long, winding road from Saturday Night Live to Late Night

It’s hard to imagine a sketch that even Will Ferrell couldn’t save. Even Jason Sudeikis admitted that Ferrell is among the greatest sketch comedy performers in history. Depending on who’s watching, this either significantly increased or decreased desire to see “Unicorn.”

Performing “Unicorn” for “Second Chance Theatre” came with the added challenge of producing sketch comedy during a pandemic. But Saturday Night Live at Home proved that it is possible and the trio of Meyers, O’Brien, and Sudeikis was able to pull it off.

There is a lot going on in “Unicorn.” A lot. The weirdness of Mike O’Brien’s animal handler and the odd vibe of Sudeikis’s Jurgen Klopp-wannabe dad character help set the stage. Even though produced remotely and without an audience, there is no denying what era of Saturday Night Live the sketch was created for.

At the same time, fans can understand why “Unicorn” may not have been a hit with a live audience from the start, no matter if it was Betty White or Will Ferrell as the star. The focus on the shocking eye infection among the unicorns quickly takes a back seat to a back-and-forth on interrupting and rude kids. And to cap it all off, kids ride unicorns off a cliff. Again, White wanted no part of this sketch and Ferrell couldn’t save it.

The post-sketch interviews are an important part of “Second Chance Theatre.” Seth Meyers and Jason Sudeikis discussed the challenges of directing their kids for “Unicorn” while Mike O’Brien revealed that there is one other sketch of his that flopped even worse.

Late Night went with the wise decision of staging “Unicorn” rather than O’Brien’s Stephen Hawking idea. It sounds like something best left in the SNL archives rather than given a second chance by Meyers.

Meyers routinely asks Saturday Night Live alumni and current performers about their favorite rejected sketches. It means that there is still plenty of material for “Second Chance Theatre” and an opportunity for things to get even stranger than “Unicorn.”

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What did you think of “Unicorn?” Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Keep checking Last Night On for more on Saturday Night LiveLate Night with Seth Meyers, and the rest of late night television.