On Saturday October 5, Saturday Night Live will return to Studio 8H in New York for five consecutive episodes, the first of which will be hosted by Chris Rock (Everybody Hates Chris, Top Five). The sketch comedy show, which took home six Emmys during last week’s Creative Arts ceremonies, posted their classic corkboard lineup on Twitter Thursday, revealing that “WAP” rapper Megan Thee Stallion will be joining Rock has the episode’s musical guest.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) September 24, 2020
Executive producer Lorne Michaels (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock) shared his goals for the show’s upcoming season 46 while speaking with The New York Times. “We just had to go back” Michael’s definitively answered The New York Times when asked whether he had considered continuing with its remote format, developed after COVID-19 drove the cast and crew out of the studio in the spring “it’s an election year. It’s what we do.” The unprecedented five-episode stretch is a direct result of Michael’s emphasis on political comedy, “there are four [presidential and vice-presidential] debates in the month of October, and I was trying to figure out how to take a week off, but it didn’t work out. So we’ll do five shows in a row, which we’ve never done, and under these circumstances” (The New York Times).
Jim Carrey is our new Joe Biden! pic.twitter.com/hBJPRJl6Ja
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) September 16, 2020
On September 16, Jim Carrey was cast as Saturday Night Live’s Joe Biden and Rock’s hosting role marks a similarly political decision for Michaels. When comedians host Saturday Night Live they tend to write their own monologues, rather than having the show’s writing team craft jokes for them. Rock, who has hosted the show 3 times, has delivered some memorable opening remarks infused with a degree of political witticism prevalent in his comedy. The New York Times compared Saturday Night Live’s return amidst the uncertainty and fear of 2020 to the New York institution’s emotional first episode back after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Rock tackled the topic of domestic terrorism in his 2015 monologue, proving he is the perfect choice to usher in season 46 and address serious circumstances with comedic sensibility.
In addition to his monologue work, Rock, who served as a cast member from 1990 to 1993, has contributed to some of the show’s most lasting political sketches. In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Dave Chappelle (Chappelle’s Show, Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones) hosted the program and Rock accompanied him in a sketch about election night.
A national conversation regarding race and racism has recently led audiences to examine Saturday Night Live’s troubled history with race, one instance involving Rock specifically. Jimmy Fallon (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon), who served on Saturday Night Live for six years, earned his place on the sketch show through an audition that relied heavily on celebrity impressions. One of Fallon’s impressions was of Rock, who he later played in a sketch while wearing blackface. Fallon met criticism when this clip resurfaced over the summer, though Rock said to The New York Times “Jimmy’s a great guy. And he didn’t mean anything. A lot of people want to say intention doesn’t matter, but it does. And I don’t think Jimmy Fallon intended to hurt me. And he didn’t.” Despite his defense of Fallon’s personal character, Rock compares blackface to cancer, meaning it’s something that should be universally recognized as unwelcome, via The New York Times. Michaels said that he expects Rock to address the controversy when hosting the show’s premiere, according to The New York Times.
Aside from addressing Fallon’s impression and the current sociopolitical climate, it can be expected that Rock will take some time to promote the fourth season FX’s anthology crime drama Fargo. By the time Rock hosts Saturday Night Live, Fargo will have just gotten underway, with the first episode airing September 27. Rock will star in the most recent season as crime boss Loy Cannon, a role creator Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion) claims Rock was destined to play.
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As Saturday Night Live‘s musical guest, Megan Thee Stallion joins Rock for her SNL debut, coming off the heels of her smash success WAP, which invited its own array of social media discourse over the summer. There has been no confirmation as to whether Cardi B will join the artist to perform, a likely censored version of, the track on Saturday Night Live, but it’s hard to imagine her hit won’t be exploited somewhere in the evening’s satire.
Rock and Megan Thee Stallion will be preforming live from Studio 8H alongside the entire returning cast, including Emmy nominated performers Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan and Kel), Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live, The Awesomes) and Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Bombshell) and the newest repertory player, Ego Nwodim (Saturday Night Live, Brockmire).