After more than a month off the air, Saturday Night Live returned this weekend with a special episode filmed remotely. In a major surprise, America’s Dad and COVID-19 survivor, Tom Hanks, appeared as the unannounced host of the episode.
Hanks delivered the episode’s monologue from his own kitchen. He began by acknowledging how it was “a strange time to try and be funny, but trying to be funny is SNL’s whole thing, so we thought, ‘What the heck?”
He then commented on his own recent battle with coronavirus and joked, “I have been the celebrity canary in the coal mine for the coronavirus, and ever since being diagnosed I have been more like America’s dad than ever before,” he explained, adding: “No one wants to be around me very long and I make people uncomfortable.”
Addressing SNL’s “At Home” episode, Hanks commented, “Will it be weird to see sketches without big sets and costumes? Sure. But will it make you laugh? Eh, it’s ‘SNL,’ there will be some good stuff, maybe one or two stinkers, you know the drill.”
To that point, the episode consisted of pre-recorded sketches filmed by the show’s cast at their homes. There was no cold opening, no audience, and without professional camera or audio equipment, many of the sketches appeared amateur in quality. Nevertheless, there were a few highlights, such Kyle Mooney’s Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles digital short; as Kate McKinnon’s RBG workout video and a Zoom-themed video staff meeting that was derailed by two elderly secretaries. Meanwhile, Coldplay’s Chris Martin appeared as the evening’s musical guest and delivered a poignant cover of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm”.
Hanks closed his monologue on a more serious tone: “Stay safe. We are in this for the duration, and we are going to get through this together. We are going to thank our hospital workers, our first responders, and all of our helpers… the men and women who are keeping this country going when we need them more than ever. We’re going to take care of them, and we’re going to take care of each other.”
This weekend’s episode marked SNL’s first since March 7th, after shutting down production due to the coronavirus pandemic. The episode is considered a one-off, though more remote episodes could be required depending on how long New York City is under quarantine.