In a recent development at “Saturday Night Live,” former cast member Cecily Strong decided against portraying Congresswoman Elise Stefanik in the show’s latest episode, citing discomfort with the content of the opening sketch. Sources close to the situation informed The Post of her last-minute decision to withdraw from the sketch, which parodied the recent congressional hearings on antisemitism at American universities.
Strong, who left the iconic NBC show in December 2022 after an 11-season run, was scheduled to appear as a guest in the dress rehearsal before opting out. Newcomer Chloe Troast stepped in to play Stefanik in the actual broadcast.
Insiders revealed that the cold open, which typically is the final segment to be written each week, faced a rushed preparation process. This haste led to a notable error in the live version, where nameplates for Heidi Gardner (as Elizabeth Magill, the now-resigned UPenn president) and Chloe Fineman (as MIT president Sally Kornbluth) were initially misplaced, a mistake corrected in the online version.
A TV source stated, “Cecily was uncomfortable with the sketch,” and another insider elaborated on the various factors contributing to her decision to back out last minute.
The Post reached out to Strong and NBC for comments but has yet to receive a response.
Alex DeGrasse, Senior Advisor to Congresswoman Stefanik, commented exclusively to The Post, indicating that Stefanik did not watch the sketch but had received numerous messages from Americans across the political spectrum expressing their disgust at what they deemed as antisemitic content from the show’s comedians.
DeGrasse criticized the sketch for its attempt to find humor in the university presidents’ failure to address antisemitism, calling it the “worst cold open ever” and highlighting the seriousness of the subject matter.
The aired sketch, featuring Troast as Stefanik, sparked controversy and backlash from viewers. Troast’s portrayal of Stefanik included pointed and exaggerated questions to the university presidents about antisemitism, leading to critical comments on her Instagram account. Viewers accused the show of trivializing a serious issue and displaying bias against Republicans.
The backlash extended beyond the audience, with prominent figures like Rabbi Shmuel Reichman describing the sketch as “the most embarrassing” he had seen, criticizing the show’s disconnect from current realities. Another rabbi and writer, David Bashevkin, expressed his disappointment, noting SNL’s tendency to focus jokes on Trump and calling the sketch a significant failure.