Leslie Jones Shares the Time Melissa McCarthy Rejected Her 'SNL' Skit — and What That Taught Her (Exclusive Excerpt)

In her candid new memoir 'Leslie F*cking Jones,' the star opens up about her ups and downs at 'Saturday Night Live'

 Will Heath/NBC Leslie Jones
Will Heath/NBC Leslie Jones

Standup comedy is not for the faint of heart. But neither is sketch comedy.

That's a lesson Leslie Jones — who sat down with PEOPLE in this week's issue ahead of the Sept. 19 release of her new memoir Leslie F*cking Jones — says she had to learn the hard way after landing at Saturday Night Live as a writer back in 2014.

Then 47, she'd already worked tirelessly to make a name for herself on the standup circuit. But, before she'd go on to become an Emmy-nominated standout SNL cast member, known for her hilarious turns at the show's Weekend Update desk, Jones still had her work cut out for her.

With a star-making five-year run on the show, "There were so many things that I could have put in [this book]," Jones, 56, says of writing about her SNL days in her new memoir.

<p>Will Heath/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty</p> Leslie Jones, Colin Jost and Michael Che

Will Heath/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty

Leslie Jones, Colin Jost and Michael Che

Here is an exclusive excerpt of one moment that made the cut. Jones shares an early SNL experience involving guest host Melissa McCarthy, which served as a stepping stone on her path from behind-the-scenes writer to performer.

To listen to Leslie Jones read from her memoir, click below. A content note: Jones uses language that may not be suitable for all listeners.

LESLIE F*ING JONES, written and read by Leslie Jones, courtesy of Hachette Audio.

One of my first sketch pitches was the moment I learned that pitching was something I had to work at. I wrote and pitched a sketch to Melissa McCarthy. It was the sketch version of a joke I had been doing which I nicknamed “Big Women in the House.”

Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy

For the sketch Melissa and I would be talking to some guy in the club: “You’re out there in this club trying to get these skinny pretty b----es? You know, when you go to her house, she ain’t going to have no food in her refrigerator, right? Me, I got a whole meatloaf and some mashed potatoes, some biscuits and string beans! I got two parking spots. You ain’t gotta park on the street, boo. Ain’t going to be no ticket for you. Look at my TV! I got a Samsung Series 6—you know how many esses is in that? I’m just going hand you the remote—you got all the power in my house.”

I even created a jingle for it: “Real women got real curves, real women got real swerves!” The whole point was, we may be bigger than skinny b----es, but we’re the size that women really are—those skinny b----es are starving! You’re not supposed to be a size zero. But Melissa really wasn’t feeling it.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Melissa McCarthy" Episode 1724 -- Pictured: Melissa McCarthy during the opening monologue on May 13, 2017 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) Melissa McCarthy
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Melissa McCarthy" Episode 1724 -- Pictured: Melissa McCarthy during the opening monologue on May 13, 2017 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images) Melissa McCarthy

I had the biggest lump in my throat. OMG—did I not explain it right? I was horrified. The truth was, something I always kill at—being funny—I wasn’t killing at in my early days at SNL. I found myself crying from frustration and anger, and Michael Che came and talked to me.

“Do you know how many times you’re going to have to pitch to people?” he said. “You’re going to need a thicker skin.”

Later that week at the SNL afterparty (it was, coincidentally, also Seth Meyers’s leaving party) Melissa came up to me.

<p>Ethan Miller/Getty</p> Leslie Jones

Ethan Miller/Getty

Leslie Jones

“I just want to tell you that that sketch wasn’t for me—you wrote that sketch for you,” she said. “That’s really a you sketch—you should be doing that sketch.”

"Well, babe,” I said, “I’m not a cast member or a host. So, what do I do now?”

“Well,” she said, “I’m just letting you know. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“You didn’t hurt my feelings,” I said, “but I did want to fight you, though.” Thank God she laughed at that, because I just wanted to make her laugh. And then she hugged me.

'Leslie F*cking Jones' by Leslie Jones
'Leslie F*cking Jones' by Leslie Jones

For more on Jones's raw new memoir and rocky road to stardom, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Excerpted from the book Leslie F*cking Jones: A Memoir by Leslie Jones. Copyright © 2023 by Leslie Jones. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.

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