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NBC Censors Comedian’s Routine on ‘Saturday Night Live’

October 22, 1986 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A comedian’s references to drugs were not negative enough to meet network standards, so his routine was censored during the delayed West Coast broadcast of ″Saturday Night Live,″ said the producer.

The routine by comedian Sam Kinison went out unedited in other markets, said SNL producer Lorne Michaels.

Michaels, who in the past has threatened to quit over battles with network censors, said he disagreed with the edits but understood the action.

″When you work on network TV you have to play by the rules and Sam didn’t play by the rules,″ Michaels told the Los Angeles Times. ″They didn’t consider his drug references negative enough.

″The policy at NBC now is that the only references to drugs must be negative.″

The censors cut off the audio and picture for about 13 seconds during two segments of Kinison’s five-minute stand-up routine.

Kinison was talking about the government’s war on drugs when the first of two edits took place as he joked about making a trade.

″They’ve taken the pot, there is no more pot,″ Kinison said. ″You can’t get any more pot. If you give us back the pot, we’ll forget the crack.″

On the West Coast, a slide showing last year’s cast was put on the screen instead.

″My reaction was mixed because Sam hadn’t done the joke at dress so the censors were unprepared,″ Michaels said. ″But I disagreed with the decision to cut it. ... It seems foolish to me to say all comments about drugs are pro- drug. I thought his comment was a very smart comment.″

The other edit came while Kinison was commenting on television preachers. When the audience rejoined Kinison moments later, he was saying goodnight and the audience was applauding.

A message left at Kinison’s management firm went unanswered Tuesday.

NBC spokesman Peter Spivey did not return several calls to his office.

Kinison also was edited when he appeared on ″Saturday Night Live″ last season, Michaels said.

The show could not be censored in time zones where it runs live because there is no time delay.