Less than three hours before the show aired, NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL) made a dramatic change in this week’s program. Producers swapped out the opening sketch that was seen at the dress rehearsal and replaced it with something completely different.

The dress rehearsal sketch was one that slammed GOP Senators who grilled Obama’s Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel and left Hagel unscathed. The curious issue here — it was generally accepted on both sides of the aisle that Hagel’s performance in the Senate hearings was terrible.

But SNL writers seemed to think that the GOP senators who pressed the nominee on Israel were the problem.

Controversial SNL Sketch was pulled from the show after dress rehearsal but released online

Image: NBC

At one point, the sketch went so far as to have a John McCain character ask the fake Hagel how he would respond if Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu called him with a disgusting request.

“It is vital to Israel’s security that you go on national television, that night, and perform oral sex on a donkey.”

An openly miffed Hagel character repeated the question:

“Oral sex on a donkey?”

The fake McCain reaffirmed and pressed the question:

“That’s right, that’s right… would you do that for Israel?”

After the ersatz Hagel questioned the legitimacy of the question, the hearing further deteriorated with a number of GOP senators volunteering to perform the sex act if Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu asked them to. As if that was not bad enough, the debasement of the program continued with an added discussion about bestiality.

Here is the sketch that was seen by the audience at the dress rehearsal, but for whatever reason did not appear on Saturday night:

TheBlaze reached out to NBC for comment on why the sketch was cut from the live show. Because it was a weekend, no live person was available to speak with us.

However, this writer has had discussions in the past with several SNL alumni about the difference between the dress rehearsals and the real shows. According to both Tracy Morgan and Darrell Hammond, sketches that might be risqué or require too much technical support (fast costume changes, special effects, etc.) are often tested and recorded in the dress rehearsal. After the early show, producers meet and discuss the lineup and make changes as needed. There are times when a recorded sketch from the dress rehearsal is used in the actual show, and then there are times when sketches are replaced altogether.

Judging from the lack of laughter from the audience during the most questionable parts of the Senate hearing sketch, this might have been cut based on lack of laughter as well as bad taste. We have no confirmation from the network on this.

Here is the Super Bowl power outage sketch that was used to open the show:

The question remains: why did NBC decide to release the sketch online? It is available to Hulu members and can now be seen on several news outlet websites. If it was not good enough for the broadcast and they replaced it with the Super Bowl sketch (which obviously got more laughs than the Senate hearing sketch), why release it?