Saturday Night Live kicked off its first remote episode by introducing Tom Hanks as the surprise host. Hanks, who was the first Hollywood celebrity who tested positive for the coronavirus, alongside his wife, Rita Wilson, joked about being the "celebrity canary in the coal mine and ever since being diagnosed, I have been more like America's dad than ever before." Hanks also sported a shaved head, which he said was for a recent film role and thankfully means less time in the shower.
During Hanks' monologue, he caught fans up to date on his experience with the coronavirus. Hanks and Wilson were diagnosed last month during a visit to Australia and were quarantined in a hospital there for five days. They quarantined at a residence in Australia before returning home to their home in the U.S. "Now, my wife and I are doing great," Hanks said. "We're hunkered down, like all of us should be and in fact... this suit, this is the first time I've worn anything other than sweatpants since March 11."
Hanks explained how the new episode would work. "We're not really live, but we are doing everything we can to make this feel like the SNL you know and love," Hanks said. "I am even using cue cards. I am even using cue cards! Just riff, baby! That's what I'm doing. So tonight, I can do everything a host does during a normal SNL. I can even do that old chestnut... the question and answer monologue."
That there was a new Saturday Night Live episode at all this week was a surprise. While it is easy to see how talk shows could be filmed at home, it was difficult to see how the SNL team could pull this off before the episode began. On Saturday morning, "Weekend Update" co-anchor Michael Che acknowledged how bizarre it was, but said the cast and crew wanted to give fans something that would give a sense of normalcy.
"So we're doing a new SNL tonight, from home," Che wrote Saturday morning. "It's obviously not gonna be what you're used to seeing from our show. But it could be fun for whoever it's fun for. It was honestly skeptical about doing it at first, but having something else to think about this week really helped the days go by for me. And also, seeing my cast mates and the staff made s— feel quasi-normal again. And if we can do the same for you with something silly and dumb, then damn it, let's give it the ol' GED try."
NBC gave very few hints about how Saturday Night Live At Home would work. The network shared a screenshot of the cast rehearsing using Zoom, with everyone participating. Pete Davidson, Che, Colin Jost, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon and the rest were all there, filming separately from their homes. The network did not announce a guest or musical performer to keep any cameos a surprise. Aside from Hanks, the show featured Coldplay frontman as the performer.