R. Kelly’s hit song “I Believe I Can Fly” makes things a little awkward during a hilarious memorial service skit featured in the 47th season premiere of Saturday Night Live on Oct. 2.
In the four-minute sketch, titled “Funeral Song,” SNL’s Kenan Thompson plays “legendary Atlantic City headliner” LeVar B. Burton, who is bussed in to perform the deceased elderly woman’s all-time favorite tune. When it turns out to be “Fly” by disgraced R&B singer Kelly, who was recently found guilty on all counts in a sex trafficking trial, the mourners protest in disgust.
“Stop, stop stop. This song is by R. Kelly,” one distraught griever interrupts. Another disturbed attendee adds, “Yeah, we were already sad and now you’re making us listen to R. Kelly.”
“I Believe I Can Fly,” which was featured on the soundtrack to the 1996 film Space Jam, reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 for four weeks and won Kelly three Grammy Awards, including best R&B song.
The confused priest overseeing the service, played by host Owen Wilson, then chimes to clarify that the dead woman specifically wanted “Fly” performed during her funeral. “But R. Kelly is a horrible man who did awful things,” another mourner says, as the other guests agree that perhaps the lady didn’t know about the 54-year-old singer’s crimes.
Thompson’s Burton, dressed in a sequin and large glasses, then continues singing as photos of the deceased woman posing with other celebrities accused of wrongdoing, including Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby.
Owen’s priest character later clarifies why the lady wanted this particular Kelly song. “Right before she died, she looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘I believe I can fly’ — and then she jumped,” he says, as another mourner revealed she had gambling debts. The skit hilariously closes with Burton playing the dead woman’s second favorite song, Kelly’s “Ignition” remix.
Watch SNL’s “Funeral Song” sketch below.