A “Saturday Night Live” season that was more abrupt than intended and still more generous than it had to be came to a bittersweet end this weekend.
Cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, “S.N.L.” could have called it quits after its last live episode in March, but instead the show found innovative ways to persevere and play on through circumstances that seemed antithetical to the creation of sketch comedy. You rooted for it to work as much as you hoped that “S.N.L.” never has to do it again.
This weekend’s episode, the season’s third at-home production, began with an honest-to-goodness cold open sketch: an online high-school graduation ceremony for a school called Mary Magdalene by the Expressway, whose principal (Kate McKinnon) has informed her students that they’ve been refused by most of their preferred keynote speakers, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Axl Rose, murder hornets and Elon Musk and Grimes’s baby.
Instead, the class will have to be satisfied with remarks by President Trump, played as always by Alec Baldwin. He began by offering congratulations “to the class of Covid-19,” then warned: “My valet got the virus so I had to do my own makeup,” Baldwin said. “I had to resort to a Liza Minnelli TikTok makeup tutorial.”
Baldwin told the students they were actually lucky to be graduating at a time when there were “so many exciting new jobs out there, like grocery-store bouncer, cam girl, porch pirate, amateur nurse and coal.” Following boos from some students who were calling for Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Baldwin asked, “Don’t you hate when these elite medical experts tell you what to do?” Then he took a swig from a Clorox bottle that he called “good old invincibility juice.”
He offered some parting advice to the class: “Surround yourself with the worst people you can find. That way you’ll always shine. If you don’t understand something, just call it stupid. Never wear sunscreen. And live every day like it’s your last. Because we’re going to let this virus run wild.”