The “grotesque” reason Martin Lawrence was permanently banned from Saturday Night Live
Martin Lawrence, the stand up comedian and actor who achieved critical acclaim during the 1990s, has always been a non-conformist maverick when it comes to delivering his act. Safe to say his 1994 appearance on Saturday Night Live summed that approach up perfectly—but it came with severe consequences.
Saturday Night Live may well be one of the most lucrative late-night shows of all time and the chance to perform as either the musical guest or the host is a commercial opportunity not to be missed. However, some artists don’t seem to realise the chance they have to reach a national audience or perhaps they do and are keen to make a point. It’s safe to say that Martin Lawrence knew the magnitude of the moment and got a little over-excited.
Often known for his somewhat erratic behaviour, Lawrence was handed the opportunity to host the show in 1994 and, as is customary, began his opening monologue. However, after days of rehearsals, Lawrence decided to go completely off script on the big occasion—producing controversial comments which were criticised as “grotesque” by some those who witnessed it. Opening up with a serious discussion about the story of Lorena Bobbitt cutting off her husband’s penis, which included several jokes that already pushed the boundaries of SNL’s strict rules, Lawrence descended into a bizarre tirade about the female’s private parts and the personal hygiene of women. The comments, in which the footage of has been completely removed from existence, resulted in over 200 complaints and, according to some reports, caused protests from several SNL sponsors and resulted in being Martin Lawrence permanently banned from the show.
While SNL have since released clips of Lawrence’s monologue—which you can find below—the show has decided to completely remove the comedian’s comments about female hygiene. However, the full transcript has since emerged online: “Something else concerns me and it hurts, see I’m, I’m single, I’m a single man, I don’t have nobody, I’m looking for somebody but I’m meeting a lot of women out there, and you got some beautiful women, but you got some out there that, uh, I gotta say somethin’,” Lawrence begins as his monologue starts to go off script. “Um… some of you are not washing your ass properly,” he says amid spits of laughter and applause.
“OK? Don’t get me wrong, not all, some of you, you know what I’m sayin’, uh… I’m sorry, ‘Cause uh, listen, now, I don’t know what it is a woman got to do to keep up the hygiene on the body I know, uh, I’m watching douche commercials on television, and I’m wondering if some of you are reading the instructions. I don’t think so. Y’know, ’cause I’m getting with some of the ladies, smelling odours, going ‘Wait a minute’. Girl, smell this! This you! Smell yourself, girl.”
“Smell yourself! I tell a woman in a minute, douche! Douche! Some women don’t like it when you tell them that, when you straightforward with them. ‘Douche!. They, ‘Forget you! You cannot douche all the time, you’re gonna wash all the natural juices out the body’. I say, well, I don’t give a damn what you do, put a Tic-Tac in your ass. Put a Cert in your ass. Oh, oh, y’know, this looks like a good damn place for a stick-up up in your ass.
“I’m sorry, y’all. You got to wash properly. You know, and then, you know, ’cause I’m a man, I like to kiss on women, you know, I like to kiss all over their bodies, you know. But if you’re not clean in your proper areas I can’t… you know… kiss all over the places I wanna kiss. You know, some women’ll let you go down, you know what I’m sayin’, knowin’ they got a yeast infection.”
As some of the audience begins to voice their disapproval, Lawrence adds: “I’m sorry. Sorry. Come up with dough all on your damn lip… Got a bagel and a croissant on your lip. ‘Anybody got any butter?’ I like jelly on mine.”
In the years that followed Lawrence has failed to be invited back, even missing out on Eddie Murphy’s reunion episode last year. Reflecting on his performance shortly after the negative headlines, Lawrence said: “If I don’t know anything else, I know what it takes to make a person laugh,” he said. “People have to have the right to laugh, or else you’re going to have a lot more of us going crazy. If you can get past the language and have fun with what I’m talking about, I’m going to help keep you mentally healthy.”
In the years that followed, Lawrence enjoyed more success on the big screen of Hollywood in comparison to his stand up career. However, when reflecting on the controversy in an interview with The Breakfast Club earlier this year, the comedian doubled down on his comments: “I don’t compromise my comedy. I never did in the past,” in an interview with the LA Times.“When I put out ‘You So Crazy’ they wanted me to water in down and give it an R rating and I took an NC-17 just so I can say what I wanted to say.”
Asked if he would ever consider a return to SNL, he said: “No. I would probably think about it a lot more, what I’m saying out of my mouth just because I have kids now and I care about how it affects them. For the most part, I just want to give people what I’m feeling.”