Tom Hanks and Tina Fey join Paul Rudd for Covid-hit SNL

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Tina Fey and Tom Hanks welcome Paul Rudd into the SNL hosts’ ‘Five Timer Club’ (NBC/SNL)
Tina Fey and Tom Hanks welcome Paul Rudd into the SNL hosts’ ‘Five Timer Club’ (NBC/SNL)

Tom Hanks and Tina Fey joined host Paul Rudd to open tonight’s Saturday Night Live, but the show aired without a live audience and with only “limited” cast and crew amid record-setting Covid-19 numbers in New York.

In a statement on Twitter hours before the show went out, SNL announced: “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. The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol.”

Hanks and Fey were among the stripped-down crew which remained, honouring Rudd by inducting him into the “Five-Timers Club” of performers who have hosted SNL five times. Given the strange circumstances, Hanks joked that Rudd had in fact only hosted “four-and-a-half times.”

At the start of the show, which did not feature the traditional ‘Live from New York’ cold open, Hanks announced that: “In the interest of safety we do not have an audience, and we sent home our cast and most of our crew. But I came here from California. If you think I was going to fly 3,000 miles and not be on TV, well, you got another thing comin’!”

Hanks then welcomed Fey, another “Five-Timer” host, and introduced a video message from Steve Martin. Ostensibly intended to congratulate Rudd, Martin repeatedly referred to him as “Tom Hanks”. He was joined during the skit by his Only Murders In The Building co-star Martin Short.

The episode featured a handful of new sketches starring Rudd which were “taped earlier in the week”, but was mostly compiled of re-run SNL Christmas sketches like 2006’s “Dick in a Box”, starring Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake, and 1990’s “Carl Sagan’s Global Warming Christmas Special”, which starred Mike Myers as Sagan and Hanks as Dean Martin.

Musical guest Charli XCX did not perform as scheduled. She announced on Twitter that she is “currently safe and healthy but of course very sad” about the enforced cancellation.

Along with Rudd, Hanks and Fey, the only SNL cast members present for the live taping were Kenan Thompson and Michael Che.

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