The Actual Air Force Debunked Will Ferrell’s ‘SNL’ Clown ‘Pilots’ Sketch
Sometimes, even SNL jokes fly over the Air Force’s heads. A recent sketch saw host Will Ferrell as a pilot with the callsign “Clown Penis,” and actual Air Force and Navy officials have now stepped in to clarify why the bit was unrealistic.
The brief sketch from SNL’s final January 2018 outing saw a series of United States Air Force pilots (played by Mikey Day, Beck Bennett, Chris Redd and Ferrell) listing their callsigns mid-flight, with Ferrell’s “Clown Penis” and its explanation providing most of the scene’s jokes. “When an enemy sees me on his tail, I want him to feel the same way that you’d feel if a clown showed you his penis,” the character reveals in the clip above. “Confused, unsettled and – most of all – very, very scared.”
As tweeted by writer and star Mikey Day, Military.com actually spoke to retired and active Air Force officials for a clearer explanation of pilot callsigns. Most names are actually assigned to pilots by popular vote of their squadron, and are “meant to represent something significant that a pilot did during their initial time in the squadron.” Air Combat Command spokesman Col. Tad Sholtis also laid out the unlikelihood of “Clown Penis” gaining any traction:
The name cannot be too cool for the pilot in question, which is why you don’t see a lot of ‘Top Gun’-style callsigns across the force. Finally, the name usually isn’t one you ask for yourself or one that is too difficult to explain to anyone who asks — which would seem to exclude the callsign used in the skit.
A Naval Air Forces commander also specified that callsigns can reflect an individual’s more comical mistakes during operations. We’re hard-pressed to imagine any involving clown genitalia, but perhaps it’s better that way.
SNL will return this weekend with host Natalie Portman and musical guest Dua Lipa.
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