VOTD: Stephen Colbert Reveals He Auditioned For Screech On 'Saved By The Bell'

While we're all sitting around daydreaming about an alternate reality in which the coronavirus doesn't exist, it may be interesting to mix it up for a second and try to envision a world in which Samuel "Screech" Powers – the scrawny, Lisa Turtle-obsessed goofball on Saved by the Bell – was played by late night talk show host and comedian Stephen Colbert instead of actor Dustin Diamond. Colbert says he auditioned for the role of Screech in the 1980s and was rejected for a pretty humorous reason. Watch him tell the story below.

Stephen Colbert Saved by the Bell Audition Story

Around the 3:00 mark in this video, The Late Show guest Ryan Reynolds makes a joke about Saved by the Bell, sparking Colbert's memory about the time he tried out for the role of Screech and didn't get it.

"I auditioned for Saved by the Bell!" he exclaims. "That was my first professional audition. 1986? [Editor's note: this must have been when they were auditioning Good Morning, Miss Bliss, which was eventually reworked into the hit show Saved by the Bell.] They came to Chicago. I was a student at Northwestern University, and I don't know, somebody had seen me do something, somebody had scouted me at school. I got called down to a casting agent on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, I walk in, they hand me the thing, and I was auditioning for the part of – was the character's name Screech?"

Reynolds bursts into laughter and thinks Colbert is messing with him, but the late night host swears it's real. "I'm not joking!" he continues. "I auditioned for this part of Screech, and let me tell you how big I was. Imagine how that character ended up in broadcast. I did my audition, and they said to me, 'There's a term you're going to need to know about as a professional. It's called over the top. You just went over the top. Don't do that anymore.' And I saw the subtle interplay of status dynamics that Dustin Diamond brought to that part."

Saved by the Bell was a massive show for a certain generation, and its actors – Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Mario Lopez, etc. – will always be remembered first and foremost for the characters they played on that show, regardless of whatever else they've done in their careers. Imagining Colbert playing the wacky, ineffectual Screech is sorta blowing my mind right now, and needless to say, I think everyone on Earth is glad he didn't land that role. (Except for maybe Dustin Diamond, who may have been better off in life if he didn't get the job, either. To avoid a depressing rabbit hole, it's probably best not to look into what became of him after that show went off the air.)