The funniest SNL
-related story ever told involves Christopher Hewett, the star of the 1980s sitcom Mr. Belvedere
, and it doesn't have anything to do with this hilariously dark sketch that aired in 1992 during SNL
's seventeenth season:
While that sketch contains quite a few SNL
"bests" -- Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Phil Hartman and Tom Hanks back when he was still making movies like The 'Burbs
and Turner & Hooch
-- it's actually the second funniest Mr. Belvedere
-themed bit of comedy associated with the show. The funniest Mr. Belvedere
bit and, for my money, one of the funniest stories I've ever heard in my life, comes from Jay Mohr's 2005 book detailing his brief stint as a cast member on SNL
, Gasping for Airtime: Two Years in the Trenches of Saturday Night Live
. In the book, Mohr recounts a story told to him by Adam Sandler. Here is the story as it appears in the book
(minus one small edit related to Mr. Hewett's sexuality that doesn't add anything to the proceedings):
"One of my favorite [Adam] Sandler stories was the one he told us about the time that Mr. Belvedere sat on his own balls.
Adam had a small part on the show Mr. Belvedere early in his career. On his first day, everyone was sitting at a huge table waiting to start the read-through of that week's show. The old guy who played Mr. Belvedere hadn't shown up yet, so everyone was drinking coffee and talking until he arrived. Finally, Mr. Belvedere walked in...in a sweatsuit and a matching monogrammed attache case. When the old guy took his seat he sang out 'Goooood morning everybody!' like a British Ted Baxter. As he took a load off, he apparently sat on one of his testicles. With his nut scrunched under his leg he screamed, 'Oooohhhhh!' and had to be carried out on a stretcher."
The first time I read that passage in the book, I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pass out. To this day, the idea of Christopher Hewett -- the Sussex-born veteran stage actor who came to epitomize prim and proper behavior for an entire generation of American kids who grew up knowing him only as Lynn Belvedere -- walking into a room full of actors and production staff and, with all eyes on him, sitting on one of his own testicles with such force that it required him to be carted off to the hospital, still nearly brings me to hysterics. The fact that the story involves Adam Sandler makes it even sweeter, since he is my second-favorite SNL
alum of all time, behind Chevy Chase.
So, the end, right? This is the best story ever. Thanks for coming. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Well, not so fast.
A few years after the publication of Mohr's book, comedian Doug Benson appeared on his podcast, "Mohr Stories." During the course of their conversation, Benson brought up the Mr. Belvedere
story and revealed that the story wasn't Adam Sandler's, it was actually originally told by Benson's former roommate, Rob Stone, who played Kevin Owens on the sitcom. In fact, Benson reveals Sandler wasn't even in the room when the ball-crushing incident occurred. Here's the relevant clip where Benson discusses the story (language in the clip is NSFW
, and you have to suffer through Mohr and his wife Nikki Cox talking over one another constantly, but it's worth it):
Benson discussed the story further in a Q&A thread on comedy website A Special Thing
back in 2011 as well:
"The semi-definitive story is that my roommate at the time, Rob Stone, played Kevin on MR. BELVEDERE, and he came home early one day and I said, "Why are you home early?" And he said, "Mr Belvedere sat on his own balls." Sandler was definitely never there. He got the story from me. And rob wasn't the sort to make things up, especially a story about an older gentleman he admired sitting on his own balls."
Now, as disappointing as it is to discover Sandler was never actually involved, it doesn't really diminish the story's impact. As Mohr and his wife point out in the podcast, it's possible Sandler told the story in such a way that Mohr thought Sandler was in the room, or maybe Mohr misremembered the specifics and Sandler was simply retelling Benson's story.
So, once again. That's that, right? A simple misunderstanding when it comes to who can legitimately claim ownership of the story, but assuming Benson is correct, all his account of the situation does is yank the story out of SNL
-related lore. It doesn't change the fact that a ball was crushed, or that the ball in question belonged to the guy playing Mr. Belvedere. Right?!
But wait! There's more! Follow me down the rabbit hole!
In a 2009 interview with Maclean's
("Canada's only national weekly current affair magazine"), Jeff Stein
, an executive producer on the sitcom, asserted that the ball-busting story was true, but that it happened under completely different circumstances:
"There’s also a famous urban legend that production had to be stopped when Christopher Hewett (Mr. Belvedere) injured his testicles. This one, it turns out, is no urban legend: 'Yes, it’s true. Mr. Belvedere did sit on his own balls. He fell backwards riding in a convertible in the Hollywood Christmas Parade. We had to shut down for a week while he healed.'"
Suddenly, this once simple tale of a robust television star single-handedly participating in his own painful version of Deflate-gate is now a complicated web of conflicting recollections and sordid half-truths. Is it possible that multiple individuals are simply trying to claim the story as their own in an attempt to be part of Hollywood infamy? Or is it more conceivable to think that one man could have been so careless as to experience MULTIPLE instances of sitting on his own family jewels? Whatever the case may be, the rumors surrounding the unfortunate demise of Hewett's cojones spread so far and so wide that the alleged incident earned its own entry on Urban Dictionary
, where the term "Belvedere" is described thusly:
"Christopher 'Mr. Belvedere' Hewett supposedly sat on his own testicles during a script reading for the show. The rumor has two endings...that he yelled so loudly that the light above the table in the room shook or that he was carried out on a stretcher. 'Aaargh! I just Belvedered myself!'"
The story of Hewett and his terrible, no good, very bad ball-blowout is one of the greatest mysteries of my generation. Regardless of who witnessed it and whose story it is to tell, though, the tale of a seasoned British actor starring in a mediocre 80s sitcom somehow managing to squash his own ball-bag is, and always will be, one of the funniest stories ever told.
After tweeting at Doug Benson with a link to this post, he was kind enough to take the time to send me a couple of DMs on the topic (also, Benson's Twitter game is strong; he would momentarily follow me long enough to send me a DM and then unfollow me before I could reply via DM to him, which is why my responses show as "not sent"):