Saturday Night Live cast reflects on 'crazy' Covid year in season 46 finale
The cast of Saturday Night Live wrapped up their 46th season on May 22 by addressing the audience directly in the cold open to discuss the "crazy" year that went by due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As per Variety, they were joined by comedian and actor Chris Rock, who hosted the first episode of the season, joining them to bring things full circle.
Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson kicked things off from the monologue stage at Studio 8H, with Kenan Thompson noting that it was actually a "fun year for me, but I've discovered people don't love hearing that so I'm just going to say, 'Yeah it was crazy.'"
Things were then turned over to Heidi Gardner, Bowen Yang and Ego Nwodim, who reflected on going from "weird shows at home to terrifying shows in person."
They showed a photo from a rehearsal, during which cast members wore masks in addition to their wigs and costumes, and they used stock footage of people in hazmat suits to represent what the writers' room looked like.
Kate McKinnon said, "I remember there were so many COVID precautions that if I wanted to hug anyone, I had to pull them into a closet and do it in the dark, away from the authorities. That led to a lot of confusion."
Aidy Bryant reminisced about holding her breath for 10 seconds at a time because she heard that if you could do that, you didn't have Covid and "I believe in science." That latter statement got raucous cheers from the live, in-studio audience.
Pete Davidson shared that he couldn't believe he made it the entire season without testing positive -- "for Covid," he quickly clarified.
But it wasn't only the cast members who had a different experience this year on Saturday Night Live, as Chris Redd reminded everyone of this by telling a story about the time guest host Adele was getting her Covid test next to him and "we locked eyes and I panicked and said, 'It's a living.'"
The audience for the show changed over the course of the season, as well. This episode was the first one with a full and fully vaccinated audience.
Not only did they have to wear masks and sit in socially distanced pods for the majority of the season, but also, during the early pandemic days, the audience was made up of first responders, "which sounds really nice but we quickly realized that a doctor who left an ER after a 30-hour shift is maybe not the best audience for comedy," Aidy Bryant said.
"One time -- and this is true -- a guy in the audience was just reading a medical textbook," Cecily Strong said. Although Aidy Bryant laughed at this, the show had receipts and quickly cut to a photo to prove it.
Kenan Thompson said, "That's when we started inviting second responders. They are the people who show up to the scene of an emergency and go, 'Oh damn, look at that!'"
The first-year cast members -- Andrew Dismukes, Punkie Johnson and Lauren Holt -- noted it was a weird time to start on a show like Saturday Night Live because they couldn't even be in the writers' room.
Memorable behind-the-scenes events also were mentioned, namely, Alex Moffat reminding the audience of the time singer Morgan Wallen was booked for the show -- "and then unbooked," followed Mikey Day. "And then rebooked," said Alex Moffat. "And then canceled," replied Mikey Day.
When Chris Rock came out, he noted that his episode feels like it happened six years ago. To further prove his point of how messed up the year has been and how fast things have changed, "I wanted Kanye West to be the musical guest. And he couldn't do it because he was running for president. Remember that?" he said of his September 2020 episode.
To wrap things up, as per Variety, Kenan Thompson noted how special it was to have a job at a time when so many people did not, while Cecily Strong added that even seeing only the tops of friends' faces was better than just being "alone in our apartments with our adopted pet children." Aidy Bryant paid tribute to music producer Hal Willner, who passed away in April.