“It makes me so happy to be here in the place that I love, I can’t tell you, especially after a year that has been, shall we say, a real kick in the clam,” Rudolph said in her opening monologue. “But it feels like we’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. People are getting the vaccine. My parents got theirs; I’m really happy to report that. It’s Spring, so goodbye sweater weather and hello leather weather?”
Some viewers might know her, she said, because of her nine seasons on the show, between 2000 and 2007. “Some of you may know me by the name ‘Mommy’ because I gave birth to you,” she added. “I have four incredible kids, and they’re all here tonight.”
The host then gave her kids a heads-up: “Tonight, mommy’s going to be putting on a lot of wigs and doing a lot of weird voices. So, it’s just going to be like a typical day at home,” she said. “I’ll just be wearing a bra.”
With her kids sitting in for the show, Rudolph talked about the meaning in bringing them to “the pace where I grew up”—which had her thinking about the “new kids in the cast just starting out.”
“I feel like it’s my duty as an elder, to impart to them the lessons I’ve learned on this stage,” she added, before inviting recent cast additions Andrew Dismukes, Punky Johnson and Lauren Holt to the stage.
“Band, can you play some music to talk to babies to? Ah yes, that’s it. Let me tell you something: I am a big fan of all of you,” she deadpanned. “You people are so talented, so unique, and I remember all your names: Chirpy, Lil Dee Dee and Calista Vagina.”
Rudolph then took the trio on a walk down memory lane. “Let me tell you about the cast back then. See, I was the shy one. I was so nervous I couldn’t look anyone in the eye,” she said. “Oh, but Rachel Dratch. She was the princess. She was so perfect, with her red hair, and all her freckles, and she just did Sixteen Candles so she had a lot of heat.”
She then recalled her time with Jimmy Fallon, who she called “the bad boy of the group. “And the jock,” she added,” he was none other than Emilio Estevez.”
“Are you talking about The Breakfast Club?” Johnson asked.
“Some of the details are a little hazy,” continued Rudolph. “The point is no matter how tough things get, you kids are going to be alright. We’re all going to be alright.”
Rudolph, Johnson and Holt then pumped their fists in the air to the tune of Breakfast Club anthem, “Don’t You Forget About Me.”
A six-time Emmy nominee who won twice in 2020—including for an appearance as Kamala Harris on SNL— Rudolph has appeared on the show many times over the years. Tonight, however, is only the second time she’s returned to 30 Rock as host.
Rudolph’s musical guest tonight is Jack Harlow.
Check out her opening monologue by clicking on the video above.