Chris Rock was the first host of “Saturday Night Live’s” 46th season, and he had a tall order ahead of him. Not only was it the show’s return to Studio 8H for the first time this season, but also for the first time since early 2020, since the coronavirus pandemic shifted the end of their Season 45 production to “at-home” episodes.
Rock walked out on stage in a mask but promptly removed it to deliver his monologue, which started by addressing “the elephant in the room,” that President Donald Trump is in the hospital with COVID.
“My heart goes out to COVID,” Rock said.
He also briefly touched on the new protocols in place in the studio to allow for the show to go on live and in-person. He acknowledged the studio audience, noting they had been checked thoroughly before being let in and that they were all first responders. “We let people die tonight so they could see a good show,” he joked.
He also pointed out that he has been getting swabbed daily. “I haven’t had so much stuff up my nose since I shared a dressing room with Chris Farley,” he said.
COVID took center stage in his monologue, as he also talked about how it has shut down plans. In his case, it was his sister’s wedding, for which he paid Bell Biv Devoe $80,000 “and I can’t get it back,” and Coachella. (“I know 200,000 Americans are dead, but I’m not seeing Rage Against the Machine this year, man. That is a travesty.”)
He also commented on the “renegotiations” he is seeing couples go through. “I think we need to renegotiate our relationship to the government,” he said. “Does it work? I think Joe Biden should be the last president ever. We need a whole new system, OK? … What job do you have for four years, no matter what?”
He continued, “We’ve agreed in the United States that we should not have kings, yet we have dukes and duchesses running the Senate and the Congress, making decisions for poor people. Rich people making decisions for poor people — that’s like your handsome friend giving you dating advice.”
Rock reminded the audience that the only credentials a president technically needs is to be 35 years of age and have been born in the United States. “That’s how we got in this predicament,” he said. “There should be some rules to being the president. Do you realize there’s more rules to a game show than running for president? Donald Trump left a game show to run for president because it was easier.”
Rock wasn’t out to completely bash the current president, though. He did say that one good thing is “he’s got the most energy of any 75-year-old person on the face of the Earth,” comparing him to a “dominant female boxer” like Ronda Rousey.
The point, he noted, was to get out and vote, but “the government does not want you to vote. Why do I know they don’t want you to vote? Because election day is a Tuesday in November. … If this show was ‘Tuesday Night Live,’ it would have got canceled in 1975.”
“We’ve got to take this serious, man,” he said. “Everything going on right now, we can lick this — we can beat this — if we face it together.”
“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.