On March 11, Hanks stunned the world by announcing that he and wife Rita Wilson had tested positive for coronavirus. On April 11, Hanks was the surprise host of the first Saturday Night Live At Home episode, shot remotely due to the coronavirus quarantine. "What does Saturday Night Live look like without professionally crafted costumes, sets or hair and makeup? Without a studio audience or the ability of its cast members to be in the same place at the same time? This weekend, for the first time in the show’s 45-year history, audiences got the chance to find out," says Dave Itzkoff. "Beginning with this week’s opening sketch, which showed all 17 cast members joining in a video call from their home quarantines and ended with Kate McKinnon exclaiming, 'Live from Zoom, it’s sometime between March and August!,' it was clear this would not be your customary episode. Still, the show did all it could to keep things familiar, bringing in Tom Hanks as a guest host and Chris Martin as a musical performer and drawing upon its roster of famous alumni and celebrity pals." Saturday marked the first SNL episode since March 7, when there were a couple sketches on the spread of coronavirus. Within days, all the late-night shows would be shut down. But it seemed hard to imagine SNL returning since it was the late-night show most dependent on performing in front of a live audience. Hanks told viewers that the special episode had been pre-taped and they should expect an unusual broadcast. “Is it going to look a little different than what you’re used to?” he asked. “Yes. Will it be weird to see sketches without big sets and costumes? Sure. But will it make you laugh? Eh. It’s SNL. There’ll be some good stuff, maybe one or two stinkers. You know the drill.” Itzkoff adds: "SNL returned with a full complement of sketches that let us see directly into the homes of its performers. (We’ll be thinking about the prominently placed acoustic guitar in Colin Jost’s apartment for a long time.) Sure, sometimes the audio was garbled or the lighting was off, and the whole thing had a distinctly YouTube-circa-2009 aesthetic. But the familiar wing-and-a-prayer spirit of SNL — let’s just put this out there and see what sticks — was there, too, and a lot of it stuck."
TOPICS: Saturday Night Live, NBC, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, Alec Baldwin, Chloe Fineman, Chris Martin, Colin Jost, Hal Willner, Heidi Gardner , Kate McKinnon, Larry David, Michael Che, Tom Hanks, Coronavirus, Zoom