“Saturday Night Live” host Keegan-Michael Key with musical guest Olivia Rodrigo, left, and cast member Kate McKinnon. (Rosalind O’Connor/NBC) 

By  Sonia RaoMay 15, 2021 at 11:45 p.m. MDTAdd to list

Kate McKinnon spoofed the week in American news on “Saturday Night Live,” kicking the show off by playing Anthony S. Fauci explaining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new mask guidelines. She returned as Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during the “Weekend Update” segment.

As Fauci, the country’s leading infectious-disease expert, McKinnon addressed the recent CDC announcement that people who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus no longer need to wear masks in most places: “We got some very good news this week,” McKinnon-as-Fauci stated, “and I’m not just talking about J-Lo and Ben Affleck.”

“To clear things up, I found a few doctors at the CDC who minored in theater to demonstrate correct mask behavior,” she continued, introducing various scenarios, including: Beck Bennett strolling into Aidy Bryant’s pretend bar; Bowen Yang and Ego Nwodim’s flirty businessman and flight attendant characters interpreting “the friendly skies” on another level; and Chloe Fineman telling her date, played by Andrew Dismukes, that his beard “looks like you grew mold under your mask.”

“When we come together as a society, we can solve anything,” Bryant said. Bennett responded by bringing up Israel, and McKinnon-as-Fauci cut in: “That seems like a good place to end.”

The episode meandered to sillier territory with host Keegan-Michael Key, who said he used to sneak downstairs to watch SNL as a child growing up in Detroit. He sang his monologue, at one point joking about being mistaken for Jordan Peele, the other half of the sketch series “Key & Peele.” His characters included a supersenior co-anchoring a high school prom’s red carpet coverage; a parody of Michael Jordan appearing in the “Last Dance” miniseries; and a security guard who beats up cantankerous puppets Statler and Waldorf when they won’t keep quiet during “The Muppet Show.”

“Everybody here paid good money to hear this little dragon and his friends do their thing,” Key said to Statler of Kermit the Frog. “So please, let them do their thing without talking.”

“Weekend Update” co-host Colin Jost returned to the new CDC mask guidelines later in the episode, quipping that President Biden’s “take off your mask and smile” directive sounded like “the first example in every workplace harassment seminar.” Jost also said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to lower his mask and proclaim that he is “ ‘free at last’ … is so wildly tone-deaf, it’s like if Matt Gaetz took off his mask and said, ‘I feel like a kid again.’ ”

Jost brought out McKinnon-as-Cheney for an interview, addressing the congresswoman being voted out of House GOP leadership Wednesday because she continued to challenge former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

“I fell down to hell like Lil Nas X, fracked with the devil, and bounced back up onto MSNBC,” she said. “Colin, the Republican Party is changing. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know what I did wrong. Look at me, I’m everything a conservative woman is supposed to be — blond, mean.”

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