“Saturday Night Live” received backlash over the weekend for airing a joke about animals contracting COVID-19 from Orthodox Jews.
The NBC show’s “Weekend Update” is a sketch made to look like a fictional news program in which comedians Colin Jost and Michael Che, posing as news anchors, comment on and parody current events.
During the most recent sketch, Jost, who is married to Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson, said officials at a Barcelona zoo announced four lions at the facility had tested positive for coronavirus.
He added, “Even more shocking, it’s because they attended a Hassidic wedding.”
An image that appeared on screen as Jost made the remark showed lions dressed with black hats and given sidelocks, also called payot. The “joke” can be seen below, starting at the 0:33 mark:
The joke was a clear reference to a massive Hassidic wedding that was attended by thousands of maskless guests at a Brooklyn synagogue in November.
Bryan Leib — chairman of HaShevet — blasted the show on Twitter, writing that it had “once again gone beyond the pale with this direct shot at the Orthodox Jewish community.”
He added, “I am calling on all Jews – observant or secular – republican or democrat – white or black – to call this out! This is simply unacceptable in main stream media. Shame on NBC!”
StopAntisemitism.org tweeted, “Orthodox Jews are not a tool for you to use for your comedic pleasure @nbcsnl @nbc– APOLOGIZE NOW!”
“Saturday Night Live” has not commented on the controversy.