'SNL': Michael Che Tricks Colin Jost Into Mocking Wife Scarlett Johansson During 'Weekend Update' Joke Swap

This year's annual "Christmas Joke Swap" got personal for "Weekend Update" co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che. The two Saturday Night Live head writers end each year by writing off-color jokes for one another and then reading them live on the air for the first time, to disastrous effect. This year, Che took a shot at Jost's new wife, actress Scarlett Johansson.

As usual, Che forced Jost to read overtly racist jokes while Jost for Che to read incriminating statements about the day's news. For the night's grand finale, Che cooked up a joke that tackled race by way of Johansson and the controversy surrounding her portrayal of people of different races from her. Jost read: "It was announced that Creed singer Scott Stapp will play Frank Sinatra in an upcoming movie, but the good news it, Sammy Davis Jr. will be played by Scarlett Johansson."

It was hard to tell who was laughing harder — Che or the audience, as Jost buried his face in his hand after delivering the punch line. It was accompanied by an image of Johansson side-by-side with Davis Jr., both with broad smiles on their faces.

Che's joke goes back to at least 2017, when Johansson starred in a live-action adaptation of the manga and anime Ghost in the Shell. She played Motoko Kusanagi, an Asian character in the original franchise, though Johansson herself is of Danish and eastern European descent. The casting choice drew a lot of criticism at the time, though Che's joke is more a reference to the comments that followed.

Johansson publicly promised never to take a role playing a character of a different race in an interview with Marie Claire at the time, and explained that she simply leaped at the chance to star in a female-led franchise. However, in 2018 the controversy reared up again when Johansson was cast as Dante "Tex" Gill, a transgender man in the movie Rub & Tug. Critics argued that Johansson should not take away a role for a transgender actor to perform.

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Johansson was defensive about the casting at first but later dropped out of the movie and apologized to the transgender community. Then, in the summer of 2019, Johansson seemed to flip flop on the issue yet again in an interview with As If Magazine.

"You know, as an actor I should be allowed to play any person, or any tree, or any animal because that is my job and the requirements of my job," she said at the time. This quote turned the whole saga into a bit of a meme, though Johansson later said it was taken out of context. So far, Johansson has not responded to the joke at her expense on SNL this weekend.