Chris Rock returns to Saturday Night Live to kick off Season 46 of the long-running sketch comedy series. Rock was an SNL cast member from 1990 to 1993 and worked with Kevin Nealon, Chris Farley and Mike Myers among other comedic heavy-hitters. His time on the show came to an end when he headed to In Living Color. But was he fired?
As he explained during a 2011 interview with Marc Maron, Rock planned on leaving SNL to join In Living Color, and the show fired him in response. The comedian detailed the creative differences that led to his departure from SNL and explained that there was a major difference between the two shows. SNL was "pretty white" considering that he was the only Black cast member. In Living Color, on the other hand, was a very different show and gave him an opportunity to create comedy without "translating it."
"[Playing] a Ubangi tribesman or whatever… to where, not that I thought they were racist… [but I] was the only Black face that was going to be seen for an hour and a half… it feels racist," Rock told Maron. "It's not racist. But it just feels like it when that's all you see… If you're on In Living Color and you're a Ubangi tribesman there was a Black thing before that and one right after it. There's a context."
Since his firing, Rock has made several cameos on SNL. He also hosted the Nov. 2, 1996, and Nov. 1, 2014 episodes. He also had an appearance alongside Dave Chappelle in a skit detailing the 2016 Presidential Election and the responses to Donald Trump winning. He last appeared on the show when he made a cameo during Eddie Murphy's Dec. 21, 2019 episode.
Now he will return while promoting Season 4 of Fargo. Rock currently plays the head of a crime family in 1950s Kansas City. He leads one crime family that wants to expand their territory while making credit cards everyday items. However, the family first has to contend with Kansas City Mafia, helmed by Jason Schwartzman.
Along with Rock, Megan Thee Stallion will take part in the Season 46 premiere while performing music for the viewers at home. Additionally, Jim Carrey will star as former Vice President Joe Biden while Maya Rudolph will return to play California Sen. Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate. Alec Baldwin will continue his streak of playing Trump.