'SNL': Chris Rock Hosts Pandemic-Heavy Episode That Paid Tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Chris Rock
Will Heath/NBC

Former castmember Chris Rock hosted the season 46 premiere of Saturday Night Live, which was performed in front of a live audience that had to abide by strict safety protocols.

The pandemic was addressed throughout the episode, including in the cold open that spoofed the presidential debate Rock’s monologue, and the Weekend Update segment. Rock appeared in a COVID-19-themed sketch in which all the names referenced in a local news story about a superspreader event were raunchy puns, including Edith Puthie, Alma Holzhert and Deepa Daddy.

Kate McKinnon briefly appeared as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a tribute. The appearance occurred at the end of Weekend Update, when the camera cut to McKinnon dressed as Ginsburg in her signature robe with the lace white collar. She bowed, placed her hand on her chest and looked upward, while the words "Rest in Power" appeared on screen.

At age 87, Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 19. McKinnon had portrayed the Supreme Court Justice multiple times, most recently during SNL's remote episode on April 11.

"For so many of us, Justice Ginsburg was a real-life superhero: a beacon of hope, a warrior for justice, a robed crusader who saved the day time and again," said McKinnon in a statement after her death. "Playing her on SNL was a profound joy because I could always feel the overwhelming love and gratitude that the audience had for her. It was one of the great honors of my life to meet Justice Ginsburg, to shake her hand, and to thank her for her lifetime of service to this country."

Elsewhere, the episode’s musical guest Megan Thee Stallion appeared in a music video sketch alongside Rock, Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson and Pete Davidson performing a mask-themed song called "Bottom Of Your Face."

Rock played a ghost from the future in a sketch where he informed a character played by Kyle Mooney that he will eventually live with his mom and do nothing after losing his job. "A global pandemic sends your life into a tailspin," he said. But Mooney’s character could only focus on the improvements to his video games.

Chloe Fineman impersonated Drew Barrymore in a spoof of her new daytime talk show. She also impersonated Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

Rock also appeared in a sketch about the 2020 NBA Bubble that also featured Maya Rudolph, who had previously appeared as Sen. Kamala Harris in the premiere’s cold open. Alex Moffatt played NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Another sketch featured the cast as stunt doubles hoping to get back to work after the pandemic. While the rest of the characters talked about doing over-the-top action stunts, Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant’s characters detailed their very slapstick stunt gigs.

The cast, Rock and Megan Thee Stallion all wore masks at the end of the episode for the credits. "Wear a mask," Rock said as his sign-off.