Tonight, Saturday Night Live begins its summer of reruns with a repeat of its first quarantine show, SNL At Home with host Tom Hanks!
“Live from Zoom, it’s sometime between March and August!! Those were the words from SNL cast member Kate McKinnon that launched this groundbreaking episode of Saturday Night Live being repeated tonight. The first ever SNL show performed and produced from the homes of the SNL cast and crew. Even the Saturday Night Live Band members were all performing from home. They weren’t going to use a canned version of the show’s theme music. Those musicians are union baby. So following the beat of Shawn Pelton’s drums and the blare of Lenny Pickett’s saxophone, this Saturday Night Live experiment was underway.
There’s no SNL – Cold Open in tonight’s repeat. Just a quick Zoom montage of all 17 Saturday Night Live cast members. One by one, they lit up the screen and cast member Kenan Thompson mentioned how wonderful it was to see his “beautiful cast mates on this technological approach to trying to do a live show.” From there, Kate McKinnon kicked it all off as announcer Darrell Hammond did the introductions.
A thrilling change for big time SNL fans was getting to see the personal living spaces of the cast members as they were introduced one by one. It was fun to try to see which ones were living in New York City apartments and those who headed back to sunny California before or during the show’s shutdown. Saturday Night Live had a two week vacation back in March which ended up colliding with the shutdown of all film and TV productions. The cast performed on March 7th and were due to be back live on March 28th. It wasn’t until April 11th when tonight’s repeat finally aired with some new Saturday Night Live content.
In the opener, we got a slight peek at the SNL cast members’ lives. Some of the cast included their pets in their filmed introduction pieces while cast member Mikey Day used footage of himself playing with his 7 year old boy, who we already know from the SNL Shorts, “Children’s Clothing Ad” about Macy’s hot, itchy, uncomfortable clothes for kids and “Dad Prank Video“, about a little kid named Brandon who pulls horrible pranks on his father for his YouTube show.
Here’s a rundown of what we’ll be seeing tonight in this history-making repeat episode of Saturday Night Live.
Going into tonight’s repeat when it originally aired on Saturday, April 11th, 2020, we had no idea who was going to host this crazy idea for a show. All we knew is that everything was going to be performed and produced from home. Scary thought. But it was a relief and a joy when Darrell Hammond announced “…and your host, Tom Hanks!”.
Tom Hanks welcomes us from his own home and explains why he was chosen to host the first ever quarantine edition of SNL At Home which was promoted on social media under the same hashtag, #SNLAtHome. Tom pointed out that he was the “celebrity canary in the coal mine for the Coronavirus.” He and his wife Rita Wilson both contracted the virus while in Australia where Tom Hanks was working on a film project.
The host also said that contracting the Covid virus made him even more like his nickname, “America’s Dad,” saying because “no one wants to be around me very long and I make people uncomfortable.” Tom Hanks pulled the curtain back on this episode of Saturday Night Live, explaining that the show wasn’t really live tonight. There was too much that went into producing an episode of Saturday Night Live from dozens of different locations to be able to do it live as well. That’s why Tom Hanks also told the viewers that there would be no big sets or fancy costumes on tonight’s show.
Tom also tries his hand at playing some characters and doing a one-man SNL Q & A session. Then he has some reassuring words for the country when he tells us all to stay safe and that we’re all “in this for the duration and we are going to get through this together.” That’s about it for Tom Hanks’ duties as host of this episode. You’ll see him later introducing the SNL musical guest, Chris Martin and to say goodbye at the end of the night. But if your a Hanksy fan, hit pause when he introduces the Coldplay frontman. You’ll get to see that world famous Tom Hanks typewriter collection in the background. Nice backdrop Tom.
After Tom Hanks’ comments, the SNL At Home episode tonight kinda turns into a school talent show where the SNL cast members do what they can depending on their talents whether that’s impressions, playing characters or even music. Oddly enough, instead doing some comedy upfront, SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels decided to start off the show with a very repetitive rap song from cast member Pete Davidson. It’s called “Drake Song” and it seems to confirm that Pete has a deep down desire to be a hip-hop star as much as a comedy star.
Cast member Kate McKinnon follows “Drake Song” with her classic impersonation of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In this segment, it’s “RBG’s Workout Corner“, an exercise class led by our tiniest Supreme Court Associate Justice. She has her workout equipment ready including her dumb-bells which are a couple of Q-Tips, a jump-rope which is just a piece of string and a heavy bag to work out on which is a teabag. If you haven’t gotten it by now, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is small. Kate McKinnon does an admiral job as RBG even without her wig and makeup and doing her impersonation in a homemade costume.
McKinnon is back in the next sketch along with her comedy partner in crime, cast member Aidy Bryant. We all knew that Saturday Night Live was going to do the obligatory Zoom work meeting sketch and that’s exactly what they did using McKinnon and Bryant’s elderly receptionist characters, Henriette (Aidy Bryant) and Nan (Kate McKinnon). After calling in to a Zoom meeting with their company “Sales Corp.”, the technology of Zoom becomes too much for Henriette and Nan and as usual, it leaves them in tears saying derogatory things about themselves.
Larry David makes another appearance on Saturday Night Live in this evening’s repeat as Senator Bernie Sanders. At the time when this episode of SNL aired, the real Senator Sanders had just dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination for President. As Sanders, Larry David addresses dropping out and talks about handling the Coronavirus.
Featured cast member Chloe Fineman gets her moment to shine in this evening’s repeat. She shows off her obscure celebrity impressions in a parody spot for “MasterClass“, the online education platform. Chloe does some spot-on impressions including Timothée Chalamet teaching a MasterClass on fashion. There’s a little bit too much Rocky Balboa in it, but it’s still a great impression.
Next up, Chloe impersonates the idol of little girls everywhere JoJo Siwa. She is perfect as this hyperactive, giant bow-wearing weirdo who’s teaching a MasterClass on TikTok. Looking like a cross between a rainbow and Bette Davis’ “Baby Jane Hudson”, Chloe Fineman nails this one with all the latest TikTok dance moves. Chloe wraps up this “MasterClass” parody spot as Carole Baskin, one of the notorious figures from the popular Netflix docu-series, “Tiger King.” Chloe’s Carole Baskin is teaching a tutorial on bike riding and no, she didn’t kill her husband.
Weekend Update is a little more casual than usual in this Saturday Night Live repeat with anchormen Colin Jost and Michael Che doing the funny news segment from their separate homes instead of together at the news desk. “Weekend Update: Home Edition” was recorded with a Zoom audience. Jost and Che thought it would work to have live reactions to their news jokes. This turned out to be more awkward sounding than no audience at all. It was a mistake that SNL wouldn’t repeat in future SNL At Home shows.
Michael Che addressed the weirdness of doing Weekend Update from home with no studio audience, saying, “telling jokes with nobody just looks like hostage footage.” Che added, “doing comedy with no audience, it kinda feels like when you’re in a long-distance relationship and your girl’s like ‘we can’t have sex, but we can FaceTime,’ and you’re like ‘ugh, I’d rather just cheat on you.'”
The top story on Weekend Update: At Home Edition was of course, the Coronavirus. More specifically, Jost and Che focused on President Trump’s reaction to the crisis including his daily live reports. Colin Jost brought up the Coronavirus Task Force briefings and Dr. Fauci who Jost says is “the last person I’ve seen that has a really thick accent, but is smart.”
Jost and Che also had plenty to say about Senator Bernie Sanders suspending his Presidential campaign. Jost thanked him on behalf of all comedians saying, “it’s either Trump or Biden which means we have comedy gold for the next four years.” And Che added, “I actually like Bernie Sanders, but him losing and making all those liberal white kids on Twitter sad, is the only thing getting me through this really rough week.”
Other things that are covered on tonight’s repeat Weekend Update include President Trump taking Coronavirus cure advice from Rudy Giuliani, Kylie Jenner being named the world’s youngest billionaire for the second year in a row, Harvey Weinstein reportedly surviving a Coronavirus infection, National Beer Day, the new Twinkies breakfast cereal, Joe Exotic wanting Brad Pitt to play him in the movie version of the popular Netflix docu-series “Tiger King“, cakes that look like rolls of toilet paper and clowns entertaining senior citizens outside of nursing home windows.
And since Saturday Night Live‘s resident Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin didn’t have access to SNL‘s wig and orange makeup, he did a call-in as the President to Weekend Update. While on the phone, Baldwin’s Trump began by bragging that America is #1 when it comes to the Coronavirus and he also mistakes the cheering and applause that happens every night in New York City as being for him.
The Weekend Update phone interview with Donald Trump didn’t go totally smoothly. He accuses Jost & Che of asking “nasty questions,” just like the real President Trump does. He also explains the reason why he won’t be wearing a mask which involves his tanning bed and looking like a “reverse Homer Simpson.” Plus, Baldwin’s Trump has new names for the Coronavirus, all of which are offensive, and he announces his new running mate for 2020.
There is a touching yet hilarious moment to close Weekend Update as Michael Che paid tribute to his grandmother who died from the Coronavirus. And you’re probably wondering how does “hilarious” fit into this!?
Che paying tribute to his grandma is the set up for luring Colin Jost into the “Weekend Update Joke Swap” which is when Jost and Che read jokes they weren’t able to see beforehand. This is a bit that Weekend Update always does during the end-of-the-year SNL mid-season finale Christmas show. Che claims it was his grandmother’s favorite segment on SNL. And Colin takes the bait much to the delight of “Martha’s grand-baby,” Michael Che.
Following Jost and Che, cast member Heidi Gardner revisits one of her Weekend Update characters. Normally, when she plays YouTube Teen Movie Critic Bailey Gismert, it’s sitting next to Michael Che at the Weekend Update desk. This evening, we kinda get an origin story because Heidi is doing the YouTube version of Bailey Gismert’s movie review show, “Bailey At The Movies.”
Bailey Gismert is just as much of a fidgeted teen girl in her room doing her YouTube show as she is sitting next to Che on Update. Since Bailey is quarantining at home with her parents who are making it “way awkward”, she’s reviewing movies that are out On Demand.
One thing that has Bailey upset is that Disney is delaying the release of the live-action “Mulan” film because of social distancing. She’s not upset that the film is postponed. She’s pissed because she believes that Disney thinks “Mulan has Covid because she’s Chinese. Like…that’s racism. It is!!”
Bailey also reviews On Demand movies including “The Hunt“, “Emma“, and “The Invisible Man” who Bailey may or may not have a crush on. All of these movies are considered pretty “awkward” by Bailey. She’s also having problems in her own life with at-home schooling and the Father-Daughter Dance which was cancelled, but her dad still wants to make happen.
Included in tonight’s SNL at Home episode is a “An SNL Animated Short” which looks like it would have run during the days of SNL’s “TV Funhouse” which featured cartoons created by legendary Saturday Night Live writer Robert Smigel. “TV Funhouse” had an amazing 15 year run on Saturday Night Live from 1996 (SNL – Season 22) to 2011 (SNL – Season 36).
And next up, even though it wasn’t the return of “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” or “The X-Presidents“, either of which would have gotten a huge pop from the home audience, tonight’s cartoon brings back the spirit of “TV Funhouse.” It’s a spoof of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” who are now all grown up with wives and kids and mortgages, and have become the “Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
You’ll want to sing along with the theme song, “Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles. All of them are sober now. Turtle Power!” And now, instead of Shredder, (you’ll find out his fate tonight), the Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles are battling foes like weight gain, medical tests and gambling addictions.
Cast member Mikey Day stars in a sketch about a gaming show on Twitch TV called “Cam Playz Dat.” Mikey is Cam who is finally trying out the “Call of Duty” game his viewers have been asking for. So by popular demand Cam, the gamer known as the “Multi-Player Slayer” will try his hand at “Call of Duty: Warzone – Modern Warfare“.
Despite Cam’s mad skills, he keeps getting killed seconds into starting and restarting the game. Cam the gaming expert isn’t quite dominating “Call of Duty: Warzone” and like any of these big talkers on social media, his frustration is showing.
Also, SNL At Home has a sketch this evening, that uses our complete lack of sports as its premise. Cast member Alex Moffat plays Bob Tisdale from Great Britain’s Skye Sports and with nothing for this sportscaster to report, he’s making up his own quarantine sports to announce.
Speaking into spatula, Bob Tisdale calls the action in events like the laptop “Boot Up Challenge“, “Left Match vs. Right Match” in a match endurance competition, the “Ripening Challenge” between two bananas, and the “Popcorn Pop Off” where it’s a competition to see which of four kernels of popcorn pops first. Put your money on the top left kernel.
In the past, cast members and writing partners Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney have turned their writing slumps into actual SNL material. They do the same tonight on SNL At Home. We get to see a FaceTime call between Mooney and Bennett as they brainstorm what they can do on the show from home. It turns into a lot of musical screaming. Watch for a special cameo from a former SNL cast member who they call for help, but who offers very little encouragement.
The talented Aidy Bryant does her own at-home segment tonight called “Visualizations with Aidy.” It’s a way for the SNL cast member to put her homemade green screen to use as she does some guided meditations. It’s not all puffy clouds when the “Sky Queen” let’s her visualizations get out of hand with things like cobras and World War I trench warfare. Another plus from this homegrown sketch is getting to see Aidy Bryant’s real-life pet dog.
SNL At Home includes a game show sketch called “How Low Will You Go?“, “the only game show for those sexy singles just getting out of quarantine.” It’s hosted by Beck Bennett who’s still sporting his quarantine beard even though he’s back at work and the contestants are played by cast members Ego Nwodim, Aidy Bryant and Heidi Gardner. They are three women who have worn out their vibrators during self-isolation and away from any sexual contact.
After months of social distancing, the female contestants have to decide how desperate they are just to “touch another human.” Guy contestants (“warm bodies”) are lined up who don’t have a lot going for them, to put it politely, and the ladies must decide if that’s how low they’ll go. The best part of this sketch is that it’s towards the end of the show and it’s first time tonight that we’re seeing Kenan Thompson in anything. And of course, he’s kills it as Townsen, a writer of non-erotic fiction.
Then, featured cast member Ego Nwodim is back with quarantine makeup tips using stuff that you can find around the house. A highlighter and some Crayola markers will do the trick in case you run out of your regular makeup.
This is followed by yet another Pete Davidson repetitive rap song. Lorne Michaels was feeling really generous with this first episode of SNL At Home. Pete is calling himself “Andre 2000” and rapping about having $2000. It’s really getting late in the show at this point, so this must be taking the place of the second musical performance of the night. That’s all we can figure.
The final part of tonight’s SNL At Home repeat is a tribute to man who was very dear to everyone at Saturday Night Live over the decades. His name is Hal Willner and he was the long time SNL music supervisor and producer. On April 7th, 2020, Hal passed away from symptoms common to the Coronavirus. At his point, no one knew for sure because Hal never made it to the hospital. He died in his Upper West Side apartment in NYC.
Besides his work on Saturday Night Live, Hal Willner was considered a genius producer in the music world. Hal was a Grammy Award winner and worked directly and collaborated with music greats including Lou Reed, the Neville Brothers, Marianne Faithfull, Leon Redbone, Wynton Marsalis, Elvis Costello, Deborah Harry, Dr. John, Leonard Cohen, Chuck D, Michael Stipe, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, and Ringo Starr.
Hal Willner joined Saturday Night Live in 1980 and was still working at SNL 40 years later. He was beloved by all who came in contact with him over the years. This evening’s tribute starts out with Kate McKinnon explaining what Hal Willner did on Saturday Night Live and how important his job was to the show’s comedy. As sketch music supervisor, Hal selected music and scored some of the more cinematic sketches on Saturday Night Live.
The tribute includes some footage of Hal Willner in action and talking about his SNL gig along with several personal memories from current and former cast members of Saturday Night Live including Adam Sandler, Kenan Thompson, John Mulaney, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader to name some.
The SNL memorial turns into a musical tribute with a rendition of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day“. Hal Willner and Lou Reed were best friends from Hal’s days producing some of Lou’s albums including “The Raven,” “Lulu,” and “Ecstasy“. Singing along with “Perfect Day“, are Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer, SNL writer Paula Pell and Rachel Dratch, all from home. It was Paula Pell who called Hal Willner “the gentlest genius at SNL” in her Twitter tribute to him.
The song ends with the ultimate SNL tribute; a Saturday Night Live bumper photo of Hal Willner tipping his trademark fedora. It’s worth watching tonight’s repeat SNL just for this musical memorial to a beloved man.
Tonight, Tom Hanks hosts an encore presentation of the first SNL At Home episode from April 11th with musical guest Chris Martin. It begins tonight at 11:30pm et on NBC.