‘SNL’ Ditches Live Show for Classic Sketches Amid COVID Surge

SNL Christmas 2021 (Credit: NBC)

Saturday Night Live went on this weekend… just not as planned.

SNL ditched its usual live show, in-studio audience and musical guest because of an in-house outbreak and surging COVID-19 cases in New York City.

Hours before the show aired, a statement went out on its official Twitter account saying, “Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of Saturday Night Live and the show will have limited cast and crew.”

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Instead of the usual cold open, acting legend Tom Hanks introduced the NBC sketch series and said the cast had been sent home. Ant-Man star Paul Rudd hosted for a fifth time, joining Hanks in the rare SNL “five-timers club.”

“Tonight everyone at Saturday Night Live planned to do our new Christmas show and induct a new member into the five-timers club, but COVID came early this year so in the interest of safety we do not have an audience and we sent home our cast, most of our crew, but I came here from California,” Hanks said from a nearly-empty studio.

Scheduled musical guest Charli XCX announced on Twitter, she would no longer be performing.

Without live music or a cast of comedians, the episode featured a mix of sketches recorded earlier in the week and classic “SNL” holiday skits, including Eddie Murphy’s hilarious “North Pole News Report” from 2019.

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Rudd and Hanks were joined by SNL alum Tina Fey, along with current cast members Kenan Thompson and Michael Che.

Fey filled in for “Weekend Update” co-anchor Colin Jost and joined Che for the segment. Instead of taking their seats at the anchor desk, Fey and Che read jokes from chairs on stage with Hanks, Rudd and Thompson serving as an audience of three. (Most of the jokes fell flat).

Although Che did get a laugh when he joked about the Black cast members risking their lives to brave the COVID crisis on-set while their white co-workers were safely at home.

“A judge in Louisiana took a leave of absence after she was caught on video using the N-word,” he said, “which is the kind of story that makes me wonder – why are me and Kenan the only cast members here?”

Watch some of the segments from SNL below.