TV

Here’s How Al Franken’s Frequently Rejected ‘SNL’ Sketch Ended Up Becoming A Recurring Joke On ’30 Rock’

Hang tight because this story involves Conan O’Brien, Al Franken, Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey, and (somehow) Al Gore.

Last month on Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, former SNL writer Conan O’Brien had on former SNL writer and cast member, Al Franken (who is also a former United States senator). As often happens when former SNL writers get together, the two talked about rejected sketches, and Franken went on at length about a beloved rejected sketch called Fart Doctor.

As Franken tells it, when former Vice President Al Gore hosted SNL back in 2002, Gore asked his friend Al Franken to guest write on the show, even though by that time Franken had left the long-running sketch series. Franken agreed and ended up writing a sketch called Fart Doctor for which Al Gore (again, the former Vice President) was obviously not right. Fart Doctor is a character who can diagnose diseases when no one else can based on the smell of a patient’s fart. In the sketch, Fart Doctor successfully diagnoses two patients (and collects one patient’s fart in a test tube), tells a third patient that he’s a “dead man” based on the smell of his fart, and rushes his assistant (played by Amy Poehler) into surgery after she accidentally reels one off in front of Fart Doctor.

Though Franken understood that the sketch was not appropriate for Al Gore, he believed that the sketch itself is a “gem.” He was convinced it was going to be a hit, so he submitted it for the read-through several times, which “is not a good thing to do” if you’re not there, because the writers who are there “resent you because they want their own thing in.” But he submitted it anyway. It doesn’t get picked. A month later, he submitted it again and it didn’t get picked. He submitted it enough that the writers — and head writer Tina Fey, in particular — got irritated with Franken for not letting it go. The sketch, of course, never makes it on the show.

However, cut to a few few years later and Tina Fey turns Fart Doctor into a recurring joke on 30 Rock, as seen here when Matt Damon’s character meets Liz Lemon for the first time. “He who spelt it, dealt it!”

(Via Conan Needs a Friend)

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