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Saturday Night Live kicked off its cold open on Nov. 13 by welcoming back Aidy Bryant as Ted Cruz, who offered an alternate version of Sesame Street titled Cruz Street. The sketch was in reference to the beloved character Big Bird having recently encouraged kids to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I’m Ted Cruz,” Bryant’s Cruz began. “The last one invited to Thanksgiving.” Throughout the 7-minute opening, Bryant’s Cruz welcomed guest to his alternate children’s series including Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, played by Cecily Strong. “I’m taking a break from releasing the numbers of Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill so they get death threats,” Strong’s Greene declared.
The cold open poked fun at Big Bird’s (Andrew Dismukes) reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. “My feathers fell out, my nuts got huge,” he said. It also made jokes about Borax being used to “cleanse you” from COVID-19, which Bryant’s Cruz used as a segue to introduce “medical expert” Joe Rogan, played by Pete Davidson.
“Here’s some Zinc, ayahuasca and horse medicine,” Davidson’s Rogan said.
Bryant’s Cruz then went on to explain that “CRT,” which is supposed to stand for “critical race theory,” actually stands for “critical rights trampled.” To discuss it, Bryant invited “Proud Boys” Bert and Ernie, who are engaged, though Bryant’s Cruz said their respective girlfriends were very happy with them.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Sesame Street parody without a play on the show’s iconic character Oscar the Grouch. Bryant’s Cruz introduced Chris Redd’s “Oscar the Slouch” by saying he’s “trained by the Democrats to suck the teat of the government,” to which Redd’s Oscar responded, “I use your tax money on drugs and pornography.”
The cold open ended with Cruz Street‘s word of the day, “Freedom,” the cue to welcome back Chloe Fineman’s Britney Spears, with her hot pink dress and host of dance moves. “Oh my God, you guys, we did it!” she exclaimed. The moment referenced the pop singer’s thirteen-year conservatorship being ended by a Los Angeles judge this week.
Lovecraft Country star Jonathan Majors kicked off the show as host, sharing in his monologue that he was once homeless, living in his car at 17 years old while working at Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
“It’s crazy how many people got their start at Red Lobster, both Nicki Minaj and Chris Rock worked there. I don’t know what they’re putting in them cheddar baked biscuits, but it’s workin’,” he said.
Majors also poked fun at Idris Elba when speaking about his Netflix film The Harder They Fall: “If you ever want to feel bad about the way you look, definitely spend two months standing right next to Idris Elba.” He also teased that he’s set to appear in the next Ant-Man film or, he added, “as the Black community likes to call it: Not Black Panther.“
Musical guest Taylor Swift performed the 10-minute version of “All Too Well,” which appears on her re-recorded Red album. Behind her, the new short film based on the song, starring Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, played as fake autumn leaves fell when she sang the lyric: “Autumn leaves falling like pieces into place.”
Swift also made a surprise appearance in a Please Don’t Destroy segment alongside Pete Davidson, who, in the sketch, films a music video about “three sad virgins.”
Colin Jost referenced the performance at the start of “Weekend Update.” “Well, guys, I think the lesson we all learned this week is never break up with Taylor Swift, or she will sing about you for 10 minutes on national television,” Jost said. “At the very least, return the scarf.”
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