Saturday Night Live had a surprise guest at the last minute this weekend, and many fans did a double take. For no discernible reason, singer Usher was standing on stage with the rest of the cast and other guests as the show ended. Fans were left scratching their heads.
Usher did not appear in any sketches, digital shorts or musical performances on Saturday night, but he did stand among the stars as the show ended at last. He was in the second row of the crowded stage, visible over the shoulders of Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock.
Some fans might not have noticed him at all if the SNL Twitter account had not shouted him out. It posted a clip of Murphy's farewell, tagging some of the guest stars on the stage. After listing them all, it added "(also, Usher)," and many fans were surprised.
"Why was Usher on stage last night during SNL closing curtain?" one person tweeted.
The closest thing to answer we may get comes from rapper Talib Kweli, who posted a photo of himself backstage with Usher on Instagram. He was also with comedian and rapper Donald Glover and NBA star Chris Bosh, writing that "The world's best entertainers showed up to watch Eddie Murphy on SNL last night."
The biggest thanks to Eddie Murphy, @lizzo, @TheRealDratch, Larry David, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen, @MayaRudolph, @ABFalecbaldwin, @TracyMorgan, @chrisrock, and @DaveChappelle. (also, Usher) GOODNIGHT and happy holidays! #SNL pic.twitter.com/zYhdoTboSS— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) December 22, 2019
Kweli also posted a photo of himself at SNL with Luenell Campbell, who was in the audience as well. She, in turn, posted a whole album of pictures from backstage, showing herself with stars that were on the stage and those that were just there to watch. These included Questlove, Wendy Williams and Alec Baldwin, among others.
Still, in some ways the presence of all these stars only made it more strange that Usher of all people ended up on stage, at least to some fans. The singer never appeared in the night's sketches, and looked uncomfortable to some as he stood in the crowd of weary performers.
Usher has appeared on SNL before. He was the musical guest three times — once in 2004, once in 2008 and again in 2012. He has been working hard on his own music and producing others' since then, but it has never led him back to the stage at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
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Yup I was there tonight when SNL HISTORY was made! s/o to all the love n the room fr my comedy family and beyond! Me & Bill Slipped out here to NBC at 3O Rock Center and now, off to Vegas! Eddie and the cast KILLED That Shit and I saw it w/my own eyes. Praise God🙌🏾 @wendyshow @wdaspatty @chocolate.divinity @dexstuckey @wyllisabennett @chrisobaby @tgo1225 @itsdanelledoee @ptshowbiztop5 @harriet1913 #nowords #Epic #Hilarious #Royal #Alumni #Comedy #luckyme
Still, Usher's return to SNL is not nearly as long in the making as Murphy's. The comedian has not been on SNL in 35 years, when he hosted the show a few months after leaving the main cast. Fans waited a long time for the comeback, and so far it sounds like they were not disappointed.
SNL returns on Jan. 25 with host Adam Driver and musical guest Halsey, on NBC.