Saturday Night Live Cast Shifts to At-Home Episodes

by Emory Gun ’22

Due to the unprecedented coronavirus crisis, many celebrities, channels, and shows have shifted in how they entertain the quarantined public. The most recent two episodes of the beloved “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) is an interesting case in point.  

The first episode started with a clever twist, the whole cast congregating on Zoom. Instead of the usual,  “And live from New York, it’s Saturday Night Live!” actress, comedian, and writer Kate McKinnon parodied the famous saying, “And live from Zoom, it’s sometime between March and August!” as an acknowledgement of how days, weeks, and months are blurring together.

Many improvements were made between the first and second episode, primarily with the long-time favorite “Weekend Update” news parody. In the first episode, the hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost, mentioned that there were people listening in through zoom to laugh after every joke. The laughter felt very forced and awkward. Thankfully, the uncomfortable laughter was gone by the second episode. Additionally, the first episode saw the two hosts obviously doing the show from their homes, with their own different backgrounds, which seemed understandable. However, by the second episode they both had the “news studio” backgrounds that audiences are used to seeing. This small upgrade greatly added to the episode to give it more sophistication and normalcy.  

In the first episode, per usual, the guest host led off with a monologue. That episode’s host was Tom Hanks, who recently overcame the coronavirus. His monologue included details about his own experience battling the virus. Hanks was the best choice for this unique episode. It was impactful to hear from somebody who conquered the obstacles that the virus threw at him, and it definitely helps that Hanks is admired by many. In his monologue, he truly stepped into his “America’s Dad” role, as he called it.

Between the two episodes, many notable current event figures were portrayed, such as Brad Pitt playing Dr. Anthony Fauci and Larry David playing Bernie Sanders. I thought the opening of the second episode was particularly well written, with “Dr. Anthony Fauci” interpreting President Trump’s words about the coronavirus. There was even a sketch about the infamous Carole Baskin, a woman from the extremely popular Netflix documentary, “Tiger King,” which probably has been the most watched program so far during the quarantine. 

Many of the skits portrayed the shared struggles of everyone during this pandemic, which effectively showed the audience they are not alone. For example, Pete Davidson’s “Stuck in the House” song, which talks about having nothing to do and missing life in general, stood out. 

What was impressive was the long list of celebrities making appearances in both episodes. A partial list includes Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Paul Rudd, Charles Barkley, DJ Khaled, and Miley Cyrus. In dark times like this, it is comforting for the national audience to see familiar faces of the celebrities they know and love. These episodes gave people some joy and laughter during these unpredictable and tough times.

Grade: A