Tina Fey and Tom Hanks popped up to try to breathe some life into a sad “Saturday Night Live” after the live audience was cut, and cast and crew trimmed, because of surging COVID cases before the final show of the year.
The duo ribbed “The Shrink Next Door” star and People magazine’s new “Sexiest Man Alive,” actor Paul Rudd, that the limited program hardly counted as his fifth time as host. (“SNL” alum Fey and Hanks are both five-timers.)
“SNL” — produced at Rockefeller Center, where the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular was shut down the previous day because of breakthrough COVID cases — announced the changes just hours before the show. They were made “due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, “SNL” said in a tweet.
Saturday’s program largely recycled a series of vintage holiday sketches, while “Weekend Update” featured a relaxed Michael Che in a sweatshirt and Fey trading jokes on stage.
Update co-anchor Colin Jost was a no-show.
“It’s not what you think. He’s having work done,” quipped Fey.
Even the holiday sketches were a bit sad, including the most recent, filmed Saturday morning and featuring an aging Pete Davidson trying to keep his comedy chops alive in a kind of “Raging Bull” schtick.
The best were the raunchiest, including Justin Timberlake starring in an old holiday version of the popular “Dick in a Box.”
“Cut a hole in a box, put your junk in that box … somethin’ special, girl,” Timberlake crooned.
Another featured a trio of very naughty elves (including Ryan Gosling) desperately seeking punishment from a reluctant Santa.
Singer Charli XCX had been scheduled to perform, but announced Saturday afternoon that she was bowing out, adding: “I am devastated and heartbroken.”
She urged her fans to get vaccinated.