In the cold open, as the cast reflected on the unusual, surreal season, marked by continued restrictions because of Covid-19, Rock appeared and noted that his hosting gig “feels like six years ago.”
“Here’s how messed up the world was when I hosted, OK? I wanted Kanye West to be the musical guest. And he couldn’t do it because he was running for president. Remember that? Also, the week I was here, the sitting president, who said Covid would disappear, got Covid! That was this season. They the election is over Heatmiser loses. Big moment for SNL. Clearly the right time to leave, to end the season. But no, these idiots did 12 more shows. Even Jim Carrey knew it was time to go home.”
Anya Taylor-Joy Welcomes ‘SNL’s First Full Audience Since Beginning Of Pandemic In Opening Monologue
Carrey played Joe Biden in sketches early in the season, but stepped away from the role. He was replaced by Alex Moffat.
“This year was crazy,” Aidy Bryant said as the show opened, standing with Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson.
“So crazy it made a lot of us crazy,” Strong said.
“It was actually a pretty fun year for me, but I discovered a lot of people don’t like hearing that, so yeah, it went crazy,” Thompson said.
Then the open cut to Heidi Gardner, Bowen Yang and Ego Nwodim.
“We went from doing very weird shows at home to terrifying shows in person,” Yang said.
Nwodim said, “Everyone else was fleeing New York, but Lorne [Michaels] was like, ‘We should go back, for comedy.”
Gardner said, “Yeah, it was a perfect environment for laughs. This is what rehearsals looked like.”
Then a photo was shown of cast members sitting stuffy on couches, all masked.
Then Yang said, “And this is what the writers room looked like.” Then a vintage photo was shown of men lined up in gas masks and protective gear.
The opener was titled, “What I Remember About This Year,” and although much of it was meant for laughs, there were poignant moments, as when cast member paid tribute to those who died. They included longtime staffer and music producer Hal Willner.
Cast members riffed on the ways that they managed the pandemic and the myriad of restrictions.
McKinnon said, “I remember that there were so many Covid precautions that if I wanted to hug anyone, I had to pull them into the closet and do it in the dark and away from the authorities. That led to a lot of confusion.”
Bryant got big cheers when she said, “I remember hearing that if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds then you don’t have Covid. And I did that so much because I believe in science.”
Pete Davidson appeared, and said, “I can’t believe I made it an entire season without testing positive” — then paused — “for Covid.”
Chris Redd recalled, “One time I was getting a swab stuck up my nose and Adele was getting a swab stuck her nose, and we locked eyes and I panicked and I said, ‘It’s a living!’ What the hell does that mean?”
The cast recalled that initially, the audience was made up of first responders, doctors and nurses, “which sounds really nice, but we quickly realized that a doctor who just left the ER after a 36 hour shift is maybe not the best audience for comedy,” Bryant noted. Then Strong introduced a real phone of one audience member who was reading a medical textbook during the show.
What a season ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WxENKTu4k2
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) May 23, 2021
More to come.