Saturday Night Live Makes Season Debut


Dan Stark, Student Editor

On Saturday, October 3rd, Saturday Night Live returned to their iconic Studio 8H in the first episode of their 46th season on the air.

The episode was the first to be filmed in the studio with a live audience since March 7. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, specifically in New York City where the show is filmed, the show shut down production and cancelled the season’s remaining episodes. The show then produced three remotely filmed episodes titled Saturday Night Live at Home, with the cast members filming sketches from home. The episodes received positive to mixed reviews.

The live audience present was smaller than the usual audience at SNL broadcasts. All audience members wore masks and were tested for coronavirus before entering the studio. Members of the show’s house band also wore masks.

The episode opened with a parody of the first presidential debate on Tuesday, September 29. The sketch featured Alec Baldwin reprising his role as Donald Trump and Jim Carrey debuting his impression of Joe Biden. During the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump interrupts constantly and Carey’s Biden laughs and tries to keep his cool while moderator Chris Wallace, portrayed by cast member Beck Bennett, struggles to control the chaotic debate. Maya Rudolph also made a guest appearance in the sketch as Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

In his opening monologue, host Chris Rock performed stand-up about subjects including the pandemic’s effect on people’s plans and the relationship between people and the government. He also gave a shout out to first responders who were in the crowd and encouraged people to vote this November.

One of the highlights of the episode was Weekend Update, the show’s recurring news parody segment. The main topic of discussion was Trump testing positive for coronavirus. Hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che acknowledged that while Trump getting the virus is bad, the headline has all the parts of a good joke. Other topics tackled included the Supreme Court nomination and members of the Tennessee Titans football team getting coronavirus.

The episode had approximately 7.77 million viewers, making it the most viewed SNL premiere since 2016 and their second most viewed premiere in the past 12 years.

The show has announced at least four more episodes for the season and more will likely be added as long as coronavirus cases and infection rates stay down in New York. The next episode will air on October 10, with comedian Bill Burr as the host.