Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving and his vaccine stance became a punchline in an SNL skit featuring Jason Sudeikis.
Jason Sudeikis has mastered the art of persistent positivity as Ted Lasso, but as “Mellen”, he mastered something else: becoming the perfect daytime talkshow host for men.
That’s the premise behind Sudeikis’ character in the three-minute Saturday Night Live skit that premiered on Oct. 23. “Mellen” is short for “male Ellen”, which is essentially what Sudeikis plays: a version of Ellen that includes dancing, pranks, primetime interviews, and sneak-up surprises, but from “a fan of Barstool Sports and a high-volume poster on 4chan.”
One of those sneak-up surprises includes inviting Kyrie Irving (portrayed by Chris Redd) onto the show under false pretenses. As Irving explains that he is “just as good of a player over Zoom,” Mellen gives a doctor the go-ahead to sneak up behind Irving and administer the vaccine straight into his neck.
“You got me again, Mellen,” Irving said as he laughed and shook hands with the doctor.
“You just got vaxxed — Mellen style!” Mellen said into the camera.
Irving laughed and then said quietly, “I’m mad,” as if he began harboring resentment for having the vaccine forced upon him.
Kyrie Irving forced to get COVID vaccine in SNL skit featuring Jason Sudeikis
The skit included several references for sports fans, such as a guest appearance by an unhinged Conor McGregor and a fictional segment where the Philadelphia Flyers’ mascot, Gritty, breaks into women’s bathroom stalls just for laughs.
While the McGregor bit exaggerates his willingness to fight anyone, the Irving joke plays on the reality of the Nets player’s extreme reluctance to get the vaccine. Irving has already cost himself a $186 million extension with the team just because of his vaccine stance.
After the SNL skit aired on Saturday, the Irving issue was played out in the streets when anti-vaccine protesters attempted to fight their way into the Barclays Center in order to support Irving.
“Let him play!” the protesters chanted repeatedly as they attempted to break through metal barriers.
SNL is famous for often parodying turbulent political situations, which is what Irving’s vaccine stance is now becoming. Every day that Irving holds out as a “voice for the voiceless”, his refusal fuels tension between the organization upholding the vaccine mandate and the fans and anti-vaccine mandate protesters that are now clashing with Barclays security.
Funnily enough, it was Sudeikis, not Irving, who was courtside for that Nets game against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday at the Barclays Center. The 1-2 Nets lost their second game of the season 111-95.