“Saturday Night Live” returned with its second batch of all-new episodes on Nov. 6 and once again, COVID-19 was the hot topic for the cold open sketch. Specifically this time, the NBC late-night sketch comedy series parodied NFL player Aaron Rodgers’ controversial comments and anti-vaccination stance and also included new cast member James Austin Johnson’s impression of Donald Trump.
Played by Pete Davidson, this fictional version of Rodgers appeared on “Justice with Jeanine Pirro,” with Cecily Strong of course reprising her beloved role as Pirro. He joined her remotely to discuss how the “woke mob” is now coming after him.
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“It’s my body and my COVID. I can give it to whoever I want,” he tried to argue. He also said he never lied about his status, noting that he took all of his teammates into a huddle, “got their faces three inches from my wet mouth and told them, ‘Trust me, I’m more or less immunized. Go team.’”
“People can talk all they want,” he continued, “but at the end of the day, my record is still seven and one. Meaning, of the eight people I’ve infected, seven are fine.”
That wasn’t the only weekly news “SNL” wanted to skewer in the cold open, though. Alex Moffat as Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin was the second guest on the show, saying that his win in Virginia proved how concerned voters are over education, though he said most of his voters are people who didn’t go to college. When Strong’s Pirro asked him what critical race theory was, he admitted it’s what got him elected, but said what it is is “not important.”
Instead he pivoted to allow one of his supporters to speak about “dangerous material that should be banned.” This woman was played by Heidi Gardner and said she was a big fan of Pirro’s judging but was against Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.”
“I put down my copy of ’50 Shades’ and said, ‘No. A woman named Toni? Not my America,’” she said. She then listed a few other books she feels should be banned, including Louis Sachar’s “Holes” because it “sounds sexual” and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” because “prejudice is fine, but pride is a term that has been co-opted by the gays by some sort of Lady Gaga-themed nudity parade.”
“Moby Dick,” she said was a “toss up” because while the “title is dirty, love that the whale is white.”
Having Youngkin on the show allowed a segue into the return of Trump, now played by Johnson, as Trump wanted to take credit for getting Youngkin elected.
“It’s great to be here, Judge Judy, and it’s great to win again,” he said.
Johnson’s Trump ran down a list of advice he claims to have given over the years, some of which was not taken and “it didn’t work out so great for some of those people.” First on his list was “Star Wars,” which he said should have been done with swords. “The lasers are not enough,” he said he told George Lucas. “And look at what they’re doing with ‘Dune.’ … I see a lot of possibility with ‘Dune’ — two, three, four, 15 movies. And frankly, I see a lot of possibility with Virginia.”
Kieran Culkin was the episode host, while Ed Sheeran was the musical guest.
While this episode marked Culkin’s “SNL” hosting debut, he did appear on the late-night sketch show before — almost exactly 30 years ago when his brother, Macaulay Culkin, hosted on Nov. 23, 1991. The brothers, who had starred together in “Home Alone” the year before, performed a flashback sketch of Rob Schneider’s Richmeister character. Macaulay, the elder Culkin, played the younger version of Richmeister, while Kieran was a classmate on the receiving end of his incessant nicknaming. The official “SNL” Twitter account shared a clip from this sketch earlier in the day, but when Culkin took the stage at Studio 8H for his monologue, he reflected further on that experience, showing the clip of him on stage for the goodnight moment in the 1991 episode when he asked Kevin Nealon to lift him up since his brother was riding on cast members’ shoulders victoriously. Nealon obliged. Culkin recreated his hamming in mid-air during his own outro in this episode.
Culkin also used his monologue time to reflect briefly on the success of his HBO drama “Succession,” for which he was Emmy-nominated in 2020. He mentioned how fans often tell him how perfect the role of Roman Roy is for him, which he said is like being told a perfect role for you is Rudy Giuliani.
Later in the episode, Ego Nwodim brought back her beloved “Dionne Warwick Talk Show,” which featured Chloe Fineman as Miley Cyrus, Davidson as Post Malone, Culkin as Jason Mraz and Sheeran as himself. But most notably, it allowed for the real-life legendary singer to cameo as herself.
Sitting down with Nwodim as Warwick, she had to answer tough questions like, “Why are you perfect?” and whether she’d like to sing a song. With both women dressed in sequins and holding hand mics, they did a brief few bars of “What the World Needs Now Is Love.”
“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast to coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.
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