Saturday Night Live Season 46 premieres this weekend, and the show's creators are reportedly "scrambling" to incorporate material about President Donald Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis. Trump was diagnosed with the coronavirus in the early hours of Friday morning, leaving the comedy show just about 36 hours to work the information in. TMZ reported that the studio is a madhouse with the effort.
Saturday Night Live has been on hiatus since May, and it finished last season with a few episodes made via video chat due to the coronavirus pandemic. This weekend, they have clearance to return to Studio 8H with certain safety measures in place, but the writers, cast and crew are reportedly rushing to find an angle on the latest news. The show cannot simply ignore the fact that the president has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, especially since Alec Baldwin was already set to play Trump in a sketch. This week's host, Chris Rock, is reportedly at the forefront of these efforts.
Trump's diagnosis may reportedly find its way into Rock's opening monologue, the cold open or other slots within the show. However, producers and writers are thinking hard about the best way to address the topic, sources told TMZ. The show is mindful of sensationalizing a serious topic — especially as Americans mourn over 200,000 who have died of COVID-19.
Sources said that the topic of Trump's health will definitely be addressed during "Weekend Update," at the very least and that changes to other sketches are unlikely. The show already had plenty of political jokes in the chamber, especially with regard to the 2020 presidential election, the campaign thus far and last week's debate.
SNL has had to pivot quickly to respond to major news stories plenty of times in the past. One infamous occasion was in September of 2001 when then-Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani appeared on the show to urge New Yorkers and Americans everywhere to persevere through the unthinkable attack in 9/11. At the time, the show relied heavily on Will Ferrell's impression of then-President George W. Bush for political parody and commentary. At the same time, writers were conscientious of sensitivities around the country, as they will be this weekend.
This weekend's SNL season premiere will also feature musical guest Megan Thee Stallion, and guest star Jim Carrey in his first turn as former Vice President Joe Biden. The new episode premieres at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.