After taking a few weeks off for the holidays, “Saturday Night Live” returned to Studio 8H for the first episode of 2022.
“Saturday Night Live” kicked off its cold open by taking aim at President Joe Biden, the record breaking box office hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and the nation’s weariness after now two years of the coronavirus pandemic.
The sketch saw “SNL” featured player James Austin Johnson returning to the role of President Biden, who expressed his frustrations in a news conference with reporters about the intensity of the latest COVID surge.
“There’s one simple thing you can do to make this whole virus go away: Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man,’ ” Johnson’s Biden said in a press conference, when addressing the rise in COVID-19 cases.
“Now think about it, when did ‘Spider-Man’ come out?” he asked. “December 17. When did every single person get omicron? The week after December 17. Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man.’ That’s really all I have to say.”
The president then opened the floor to questions from reporters, who pressed him about whether or not that was really his solution for all of America’s problems.
One reporter asked, “Did you really just blame the entire spread of omicron on people seeing ‘Spider-Man?’”
“I did. Yes. Next question,” Biden said.
“Do you think all COVID will end if people stopped going to the movies?” Bowen Yang’s reporter asked. “I didn’t say don’t go to the movies,” Johnson’s Biden replied. “I said stop seeing ‘Spider-Man.’ See anything else. I saw the first half hour of ‘House of Gucci.’ That’s more than enough movie for anyone.”
When another reporter played by Heidi Gardner asked Johnson’s Biden if that was based on any data, he replied, “Yes. Everyone in America has seen ‘Spider-Man’ like eight times. Everyone in America also has COVID.”
Later in the skit, a reported asked, “Have you seen ‘Spider-Man?’”
“I couldn’t get tickets, and I am on the stubs A-list,” he said. “Jill and I tried to go last night and they only had one seat left in the front row. What was I supposed to do? Make Jill go see ‘Encanto’ alone?”
The skit comes after a particularly tough week for President Biden, with the coronavirus surge, the Supreme Court blocking his employer vaccine mandate and his agenda stalled on Capitol Hill.
In result another reporter asks, “Mr. President, isn’t the real reason you can’t pass the Voting Rights Act because members of your own party refuse to get rid of the filibuster?”
Johnson’s Biden replies, “It’s true. Spider-Man has his villains. I have Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Only difference is, if one of Spider-Man’s villains saw Kyrsten Sinema, they would say, ‘Hey honey, that outfit is a little much.’”
The cold open closed with “SNL” regular Pete Davidson appearing as the President of the U.S. from an alternate “real world” timeline. Davidson told the audience that Joe Biden as President is part of a parallel timeline “that began in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series.”
“Am I the president in this real world?” Biden asked.
Pete Davidson’s Biden responded, “Of course not. Did you really think that you would lose four times and then finally win when you were 78?”
“What about the rest of us? Are we OK in the real world?” Gardner asked, to which Davidson replied, “Everyone on Earth is better off in the real world, except one man named Pete Davidson. This world is maybe more fun for him.”
Ariana DeBose, star and recent Golden Globe winner of “West Side Story,” begins her monologue by discussing her heritage and bringing up New York’s theater community, which has absorbed so many blows with the shutdowns forced by pandemic conditions.
“We are a community that perseveres. Broadway changes lives. It changed mine. It has this magical ability to bring people together. We can all use a little Broadway right now,” DeBose said.
As she spoke, Kate McKinnon came out to join DeBose duet on one of “West Side Story’s” classic tunes, “Tonight.”
The first sketch of the night features a group of sports news anchors on ESPN. Kenan Thompson (Charles Barkley), Chris Redd (Kenny Smith), and Ariana DeBose (Candace Parker) converse about the NBA and how they are dealing with a specific COVID situation. Bowen Yang also makes an interesting appearance as the replacement for Shaquille O’Neal on the segment.
The first pre-taped sketch of the night highlights a “serious, high stakes” remake about an iconic 90’s show, “Family Matters.” Chris Redd spoofs the titular sitcom character, Steve Urkel, making it dramatic and dark.
“All the characters you loved in the 90’s, without any of the fun or the charm,” the voiceover says.
In another press conference related sketch, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, played by cast member Chris Redd, takes questions addressing the past few weeks since he has been sworn in as Mayor.
After Roddy Ricch had to cancel his “SNL” performance due to COVID related reasons earlier this week, the musical group Bleachers stepped in to replace him.
Next week Will Forte is scheduled to host “SNL” with musical guest Måneskin.