SNL Had To Shelve A 'Hitler Through The Ages' Car Commercial Because Volkswagen Disapproved [Exclusive]

Across its 48-season runtime, "Saturday Night Live" has had at least as many bad sketches as it has great ones. For every "More Cowboy" or "Debbie Downer," there's something equally forgettable or mediocre. Sometimes, sketches that are done in bad taste reach their own level of infamy, like the pedophile joke-riddled "Canteen Boy" or the wildly racist one-off "The History of Vaudeville." Rarely, the worst sketches don't make it to air at all, nixed sometime during the week when it becomes clear that they just aren't going to land right with audiences.

According to former assistant costume designer Allison Pearce, at least one such "Saturday Night Live" sketch almost happened in the 2010s, and it's a concept that will probably stay locked in the vault forever. /Film writer Jack Giroux recently spoke with Pearce about her work as a costume designer on "Clerks III," and the conversation ended up steering in an unexpected direction: toward an abandoned "SNL" sketch that featured, of all things, Taran Killam playing Adolf Hitler.

"There was one [sketch] that we did that was shelved, that was a Hitler Volkswagen commercial," Pearce explained, adding, "I understand why it was shelved because it was so crazy." I'm inclined to take Pearce's word for it based on that one sentence alone, but she also explained the conceit of the sketch further, saying, "It was Hitler through the ages with different Volkswagen vehicles and the early inception one was him in the VW factory in Germany and that was in black and white."

'That never saw the light of day'

Now, this is an admittedly short description, but I have to say, I don't get the humor there. Not only is Hitler very obviously not prime comedic material by many peoples' standards, but it's also unclear why the genocidal dictator would show up in a VW ad in the first place. It's worth wondering if any audience members out there did see the sketch, as with others (like Justin Bieber's apparently disastrous "Song For Daddy") that made it to dress rehearsal but no further. But from Pearce's assertion that it remains unseen, it sounds like the ill-fated sketch either didn't make it far enough in the week to necessitate an audience rehearsal, or was planned as a digital insert as opposed to a live performance.

Regardless, as Pearce puts it, "That never saw the light of day." She also reveals that Killam, who was a cast member from 2010 to 2016, was the castmate set to play Hitler. The comedian played the dictator at least two other times, first in a 2011 sketch with Helen Mirren called "The Roosevelts," then briefly during Christoph Waltz's monologue in 2013, where he played a preppily-dressed character Waltz said the writers decided not to go with, called "casual Hitler."

Pearce says that, in the end, it was the company VW itself that decided the controversial sketch was a no go. "It was the early 1900s, 1950s driving a buggy on Route 1 on PCH and then there was, I think, '70s with the VW van, and then current with the Jetta," the costume designer explained. "It was all these different eras of costumes. No one ever saw it. VW was like, 'We changed our mind.'"