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Bowen Yang Thought Viral ‘SNL’ Titanic Iceberg Sketch Would Never Make It to Air

Almost as a lark, the idea for the sketch began as a text exchange between Yang and head "SNL" writer Anna Drezen.

Saturday Night Live

“Saturday Night Live”

YouTube/screenshot

One of the most beloved sketches to emerge out of the currently unspooling Season 46 of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” was a “Weekend Update” segment involving “SNL” featured player Bowen Yang as the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. It was just the kind of zany, off-the-wall idea (one that on paper sounds ridiculous) that helped to jumpstart a pandemic-challenged season rife with so many COVID jokes.

The sketch helped solidify comedian Yang’s reputation as one of the series’ MVPs, and in a recent sit-down with Jimmy Fallon (via The Hollywood Reporter), Yang shared the backstory behind the sketch, which started as a text exchange between him and head writer Anna Drezen. When she ran the idea by him, he was skeptical, but of course the rest is history, as the video has racked up well over 2.8 million views on YouTube and counting.

Yang said, “[Drezen] texts me in February, ‘Hey, maybe for the April 10 show, for the Titanic anniversary, you can play the iceberg who sank the Titanic.’ And I was like, “Yeah… Cool… Maybe. Sure.’ April rolls around I text her, ‘Hey, were you serious about that iceberg idea?’ And she was like, ‘I completely forgot about it. Let’s do it. Why not?’”

Yang and Drezen, who are longtime friends, went ahead with the sketch despite their trepidation, and the amount of laughter it took to get through rehearsals.

“The entire week we did it, we were losing our minds a little bit, because we just kept looking at each other and bursting out laughing,” Yang said, suggesting that they doubted the sketch would ever be seen by an audience.

In the “Weekend Update” segment, Yang plays the iceberg as somewhat of a diva. “That was a really long time ago. I’ve done a lot of reflecting to try and move past it,” he told Colin Jost, referring to the 1912 sinking of the Titanic. “It’s one very small part of me, but there’s so much going on beneath the surface that you can’t see.”

As the iceberg, Yang said, “I think my publicist was very clear: I’m not here to talk about the sinking,” but added he was instead there to promote an album.

Yang is in Emmy contention this year for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and when he’s not on “SNL,” he’s co-host of the podcast “Las Culturistas” with Matt Rogers.

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