Cecily Strong’s Goober the Clown makes a powerful abortion statement on ‘SNL’

A woman in a clown costume and a man in a suit sitting behind a news desk
Cecily Strong as Goober the Clown, left, and “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost on “Saturday Night Live.”
(Will Heath / NBC)

One of the most rousing and far-reaching rebukes of Texas’ controversial abortion law was delivered Saturday by a woman dressed as a circus clown.

In a viral segment, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Cecily Strong appeared as the character Goober the Clown on the latest installment of “Weekend Update” to comment on Senate Bill 8, which denies people the right to an abortion by making it illegal for doctors to end a pregnancy after about six weeks.

“Here to cheer us up — well, this can’t be right — Goober the Clown, who had an abortion when she was 23. ... Goober, you had an abortion when you were 23?” said “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost as Strong arrived in a bright pink hat, oversized clothing and a red clown nose.


“People keep bringing it up, so I gotta keep talking about my freaking abortion,” Strong said in a silly, perky voice. “But it’s a rough subject, so we’re gonna do fun clown stuff to make it more palatable.”

While squirting water at Jost from a trick flower on her lapel, attempting to make balloon animals and squeezing a horn that refused to honk, Strong’s Goober the Clown educated audiences on “clown abortion,” using clowns as a proxy for people who can become pregnant.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this because the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business,” she said. “But that’s all some people in this country want to discuss all the time, even though clown abortion was legalized in Clown v. Wade in 1973. ... Did you know one in three clowns will have a clown abortion in her lifetime?”

After telling Jost to pull her finger and begging him to laugh “like the way I laughed when the doctor asked if I got pregnant on the way over to the clinic because I wasn’t very far along,” Strong’s clown alter ego described her experience attending her abortion appointment.

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At one point, Jost appeared to break character by saying, “You don’t have to do this, Cecily.” To which Strong replied, without missing a beat, “Who’s Cecily? I’m Goober.”


“And in the waiting room, they had a little guest book where all the clowns could write their clown abortion story for the next clown to read it, so she wouldn’t feel so alone,” she continued.

“And then, years later, you’ll be at a dinner with a big group of clowns, and one clown will go out on a limb and say she’s had an abortion, and then like eight other clowns at the table say they’ve had an abortion too, because that’s how common it is. And then everyone’s excited and relieved to be talking about it. But it’s like, ‘Wow! We kept this secret for so long despite being so grateful it happened.’”

When Jost asked Strong point-blank if “clowns,” in this case, are “really women,” the comedian deflected, accusing her “SNL” cast mate of insulting women by comparing them to clowns.

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“Here’s my truth,” Strong said in a high-pitched, chipmunk-y tone after inhaling helium from a balloon. “I wouldn’t be a clown on TV here today if it weren’t for the abortion I had the day before my 23rd birthday.

“Clowns have been helping each other end their pregnancies since the caves. It’s gonna happen. So it ought to be safe, legal and accessible. We will not go back to the alley. I mean, the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of dead clowns in a dark alley.”

Since Saturday evening, Strong’s performance has amassed more than 4 million views across YouTube and Twitter, where thousands have showered the actor with praise for expertly tackling a historically taboo subject on national TV.

A number of vocal anti-abortion proponents responded negatively to the bit, calling it “tragic,” “sick” and “unfunny.”

“I only figured out the brutal honesty underlying this sketch on second viewing, and ... believe Cecily Strong deserves an Emmy,” tweeted Business Insider senior reporter Karen K. Ho.

“Our stories power our fights for justice and freedom — even when, no joke, they make us laugh, too,” wrote Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood. “Thanks, Cecily.”