“I suggested it as a joke, and then it actually happened,” deadpanned Kate McKinnon as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tonight. And yes, Saturday Night Live decided to literally rip tonight’s White House-set cold open from the headlines
Taking viewers behind closed Oval Office doors via the actual Ukraine war briefing meeting held on March 10 with TikTok influencers on Zoom that the Washington Post’s Taylor Lorenz unveiled, SNL tonight cut down the number of participants from the real-life 30 who were given top intelligence on the Russian invasion, but they added one Joe Biden.
More From Zoë Kravitz Hosting ‘Saturday Night Live’
Portrayed in typical halting fashion by James Austin Johnson, the self-described “landline of Presidents” sought the aid of the influencers and “fresh ideas from you guys about how we can win the information war on social media,” as McKinnon’s pitch-perfect Psaki put it. Now, with various social media platforms going down, dark or off the rails in Russia right now, TikTok has proven a constant presence of news for many over in Vladimir Putin’s backyard about what is going down in the Ukraine.
As “actress from the CW,” cast member Chloe Fineman suggested “poems” as the way to attack Putin. “Oh no, it’s that girl,” lamented McKinnon’s Psaki. Even with a rant from Aidy Bryant about Hunter Biden and various conspiracies theories and Johnson’s POTUS sigh that “you don’t expect the animal makeup girl to be alt-right,” the cold open soon was ice cold and not at all funny. To perhaps make it worse, SNL had a kernel of a good thing with the gag that tech challenged 79-year-old Joe Biden was actually a deep fan of certain prankster rappers on TikTok, but that flamed out fast.
Then Bowen Yang showed up with a plunger stuck to his nipple and it turned out their was a method to this madness.
“The idea of asking TikTok stars how to fight Russia might sound like a joke, but remember, they said the same thing about the radio in World War II,” Yang sternly proclaimed over inspirational hero-speech music. “Never underestimate the importance of new technology and how it reaches young people in ways you can never understand. TikTok isn’t some childish gimmick — it has more power and more influence than the nightly news,” he went on to say as the camera moved in amidst big laughs from the audience even closer on that shifting plunger handle.
“That was truly inspiring, young man,” responded the fictional POTUS. “Oh, I’m 55. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to move this plunger to my crotch, attach a knife at the end and try to slice an apple in half,” Yang proclaimed.
“God bless America!”
This is the third week in a row that SNL’s cold open has addressed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On February 26, the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performed the song “Prayer for Ukraine” as Putin’s forces were in the first two days of their unprovoked attack on their neighbor and a former USSR region. Last week, cast members Alex Moffat and MVP Kate McKinnon put on their best respective Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham as the cable hosts fronted a not-entirely-fictional Fox News Ukrainian Invasion Celebration Spectacular with a cameo by Donald Trump, played as usual by Johnson.
Airing as SXSW kicks into full swing in Austin, and the DGA Awards are handling out hardware in LA, tonight’s SNL sees The Batman star Zoë Kravitz hosting the NBC late-nighter for the first time.
Not that Kravitz is a newcomer to Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. As well as having various family members on SNL over the years, Kravitz herself made a cameo back in May 2018 when pal and Atlanta creator Donald Glover was hosting. Tonight is also the second SNL appearance by musical guest Rosalía. The Spanish singer-songwriter teamed up with Bad Bunny when the latter was the musical guest in February 2021. This year, Rosalía is about to drop a new album on March 18, so the timing is promotionally near perfect.
Check out tonight’s opening sketch above.
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