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Saturday Night Live kicked off its Season 46 finale with a cold open that remembered the “unusual circumstances” of the past year amid COVID-19.
Instead of a sketch, the cast members gathered together and recalled memories from the early months during the outbreak. “This year was crazy,” remarked Aidy Bryant at the top of the segment. “So crazy it made a lot of us crazy,” said Cecily Strong.
Bowen Yang added, “We went from doing very weird shows at home to terrifying shows in person.” Meanwhile, Kate McKinnon spoke of the COVID-19 precautions that “led to a lot of confusion” when cast members were not allowed to hug one another.
“Everyone else was fleeing New York, but Lorne was like, we should go back…for comedy,” recalled Ego Nwodim.
“I can’t believe I lasted an entire season without testing positive… for COVID,” said Pete Davidson. McKinnon recalled that in the beginning, audience members were mostly first responders and other medical personnel — which may not necessarily make the best comedy guests. “In the middle of our show, a guy in the audience was just reading a medical text,” laughed Strong.
Chris Rock appeared briefly in the cold open, noting that he hosted the first episode of the season, which “feels like six years ago.” He said, “Here’s how the messed up the world was when I hosted, OK?” recalling that he wanted Kanye West as the musical guest, but he couldn’t do it because he was running for President.
“Mostly we remember how lucky we are to have a job in a time when so many people were out of work,” said Kenan Thompson.
The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy hosted the episode, with rapper Lil Nas X performing as the musical guest.
“Now that you’re hearing my accent, you may be surprised to learn I was born in Miami, raised between Argentina and London and my first language is Spanish so legally my ethnicity is fashion week,” said Taylor-Joy during her monologue.
The actress joked that, for many people, quarantine characterized by two TV shows: The Queen’s Gambit and Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. Speaking of the former, Taylor-Joy said: “I’m happy to say that after watching the show, millions of people bought chess sets, and dozens of them actually learned how to play. But if you’re one of those people that thinks chess is too difficult, don’t worry, it’s not. Sharing some key moves, Taylor-Joy demonstrated some of her very serious expressions often used while acting in the show.
SNL’s Instagram account indicated that, per safety regulations, all guests at NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza had to be fully vaccinated to attend the finale taping. Upon arrival, physical vaccination cards were required to be shown as proof.
In Weekend Update, Davidson shared some of his experiences with masks during the pandemic. “I was actually excited when I found out we had to wear masks because I figured — this sounds really crappy to say, — less people would recognize me,” he said. “But it didn’t work because everyone can still recognize me from my eyes. You see someone who looks like he just woke up and hasn’t slept in days, it’s me.”
Also during the Weekend Update, Strong returned her famous impersonation of Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. After delivering a rant in which she discussed President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and detailed a trip to Mar-a-Lago, she performed a rendition of “My Way.” During the performance, she climbed into a boxed wine with the words “White Girl Wasted” read on the front.
Toward the end of the episode, Beck Bennett impersonated Vin Diesel in a bit about returning to movie theaters. “For more than a hundred years, there’s been one place where we all came together to be entertained: the movies,” he said, in character. “There’s nothing like it. The popcorn. The previews. The pretzels. And don’t forget, the movies. I’m talking the tickets, the butter, it’s really amazing. We’ve been home for too long. It’s time to get back to the carpets, the cupholders, the armrests, the napkins. When the movie’s not loud enough, when the movie’s a little too loud, I guess you could say there’s something for everybody, only at the movies.”
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