Saturday Night Live is back this weekend, with the first episode filmed at Rockefeller Center since early March. Former cast member Chris Rock is hosting, with rapper Megan Thee Stallion as the musical performer. The two stars tried to brush off any concerns about filming the show in front of a live audience during the coronavirus pandemic in a series of promos for the new episode.
In the first clip, Rock and Megan both donned face masks, with Rock's last name printed on his. Megan, who famously contributed to Cardi B's single "WAP," asked Rock if he could read her lips behind the mask. "Yes I can, and we can't say that on TV," Rock said as Megan laughed. In the second clip, Rock said the two were "not even worried" about the virus. Megan then entered the frame wearing personal protective equipment, including a face shield and gloves. "Nope," she said with a smile before the clip ended.
The SNL writers room likely thought they had an easy cold open sketch to write following Tuesday's presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. However, on Friday morning, Trump announced he and First Lady Melania Trump announced they tested positive for the coronavirus. Sources close to the show told TMZ the writers are "scrambling" to adjust the script to reflect the changing situation.
This week's episode is also set to include Jim Carrey's debut as Biden. Former cast member Maya Rudolph is also coming back to play Biden's running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris. Rudolph played the part multiple times last season and won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series last month. Audiences will also meet new cast members, Andrew Dismukes, Punkie Johnson, and Lauren Holt. Dismukes previously worked for the show on the writers' staff.
SNL is planning to air five consecutive new episodes this month, leading up to the presidential election. The next new episode, airing on Oct. 10, will feature comedian Bill Burr as host and Morgan Wallen performing. The Oct. 17 episode will feature Insecure star Issa Rae as host and Justin Bieber as musical guest. Episodes of SNL begin at 11:30 p.m. ET.
This will be the first time in SNL's history that five new episodes will air in a row. Executive producer Lorne Michaels told Vulture he made this decision early on. "Because there are four debates and then it’s Halloween, and that’s the weekend before the election," he explained. "And sadly, if the election gets extended, then we’ll be doing six or seven shows in a row. Fatigue has been part of it, so we’re trying to make sure that everyone is safe and protected and looked after."