“And live from Zoom, it’s somewhere between March and August!” Modifying the traditional episode kickoff, Kate McKinnon cued a montage featuring Michael Che taking mirror selfies, Kenan Thompson taking out the trash and Heidi Gardner using oat milk bottles to tone her triceps.
Saturday Night Live aired a remotely-produced episode on April 11, “hosted” by Tom Hanks with musical guest Chris Martin. America’s dad and “celebrity canary in the coal mine for coronavirus,” Hanks was the obvious choice for hosting duties. This marked his tenth time hosting, and also his “first time wearing anything but sweatpants since March 11.”
The episode was, by many accounts, a flop. But wasn’t that the point? Yes, there was little room for slapstick comedy, complex set designs or chemistry between cast members. But only through making light of its own limitations — with humility — could SNL truly empathize with viewers and help us find humor in our strange new reality.
The feasibility of SNL At Home was largely contingent on its ability to capitalize on trends in social media and internet culture. The most effective sketches were those that were driven by their modern structure (Chloe Fineman’s brilliant MasterClass parody, featuring impressions of Timothée Chalamet, Jojo Siwa and Carole Baskin), rather than depend on it as an unfortunate crutch (Alex Moffat’s dull sports report, Mikey Day’s tedious Twitch live stream). And while Pete Davidson did not need two low-quality rap videos directed by his mom and shot in her Staten Island basement, the spoof on Drake’s Toronto mansion from Pete’s humble dwellings was well received.
Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg filmed a fun, though not lacking in political commentary, home workout video for “all the major muscle groups: Abs, gams, tuchus, chicken wings and critical thinking.” RBG’s muscle-toning “slow burns” served mainly as vehicles to elevate each trademark “Ginsburn” to a one-two punch. “Apparently the virus came from a sick bat. Which makes me wonder: what was Giuliani doing in China?”
On Thursday, SNL announced its April 25 remote format return via Twitter. As tonight’s host, I’d like to see Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Emma Stone or Justin Timberlake. Even if it’s not JT: How about a Lonely Island Digital Short? How would Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake navigate sex with each others’ moms in the age of social distancing?
Dr. Fauci told CNN that he’d like Brad Pitt to play him on SNL, and Joe Exotic expressed hopes for either Brad or SNL alum David Spade to play him in a Tiger King movie adaptation. Brad has never hosted the show (though funny enough, he cameoed as Spade’s therapist in 1998), but maybe he’ll join us tonight, if only as Fauci and Joe Exotic.
What will Alec Baldwin do with Trump’s suggestion to cure coronavirus by injecting disinfectants? Some Cuomo brother banter could offer sound advice against Lysol injectables. (On that note: Give us a closer look at Governor Cuomo’s nipple piercings. The Cuomo-sexual fanbase is waiting!)
I’d love a FaceTime between married couple Seth Meyers and Bill Haders’ Stefon (physically separated because Stefon chose to quarantine at New York’s hottest club). Meyers could also revive his co-writer duties for Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin (quarantined in Alaska, looking at Russia from her house).
Thinking toward the next few months (or years), SNL needs one committed Biden rather than handing the role to any given host (Woody Harrelson, John Mulaney). My choice is Jason Sudeikis. Lock it down. Biden might not know the difference, but his resentful voters will…
As Joe gears up to announce his female VP, here’s hoping, from a purely Kate McKinnon perspective, that he chooses Elizabeth Warren. Or Kamala Harris — more Maya Rudolph, please! How about an SNL beauty pageant featuring all his options? Just well-meaning and wholesome enough that it won’t be much of a parody anyway…
How will tonight compare to the first remote episode, and to the SNL we know and love? Hanks’ sentiment from last time still rings true: “Is it gonna look a little different than what you’re used to?” he asked the audience. “Yes. But will it make you laugh? Eh. It’s SNL. There’ll be some good stuff, maybe one or two stinkers. You know the drill.”
The show will air at its usual 11:30 p.m. on NBC. Viewers can watch live, stream on NBC.com or Hulu, or wait and see which sketches go viral on Instagram tomorrow.
Nicole Rovine is a senior in the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.