Maya Rudolph returned to host an episode of “Saturday Night Live” that frequently referenced her tenure on the show, featuring a monologue full of advice to newer SNL cast members and ending with a parody of “The Shining” about her everlasting presence in Studio 8H.
During “A Kamala D. Harris Unity Seder,” she would ask four questions: “How’s school? Did you eat? When are you giving me grandchildren? And what’s with that haircut?” In the spirit of the holiday, Rudolph’s Harris continued, she had reached across the aisle and invited several Republicans to the Seder — starting “at the bottom,” with Aidy Bryant’s Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).
“I’ve never been to a Jewish dinner, so I brought some Israeli flag cupcakes, and I got a ton of these leftover from CPAC. And I’ve got some pigs in a blanket,” Bryant’s Cruz said. He then went on to blame his daughters for another personal mishap — this time, scratching Emhoff’s Prius on the driveway — and claimed: “It wasn’t me. My only crime is loving too much, and sedition.”
Next up was Chloe Fineman’s Ella Emhoff — “You may think I look insane, but I assure you, I’m the most normal-looking girl in Bushwick,” she said after entering to her own theme music — followed by Kenan Thompson’s Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.).
“You saw ‘Roots,’ right? That’s how it’s going in Georgia,” he said, adding of the state’s new voting law dramatically curtailing voting access: “They’ll do everything they can to keep Black people from voting. We wouldn’t vote on anything if they had their way. Not even ‘American Idol.’ ”
Alex Moffat, who took over as President Biden when Jim Carrey left the role, showed up to reflect on his first news conference: “I wasn’t nearly prepared enough, but I think I proved them all wrong,” he said, looking down at a note card. “Kamala, I’m not sure if you heard, but I’m putting you in charge of solving a little immigration problem down at the border.”
“Thank you for the opportunity,” she responded. “Such a fun, solvable problem.”
Moffat’s Biden brought along his retrained dog, Major, who attacked Short’s Emhoff until being “spooked” by someone else. It turned out to be Cecily Strong’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who climbed through the window into what she called “antifa headquarters.”
“Ever since January 6th, I’ve only been entering buildings insurrection style,” she explained.
When Rudolph’s Harris worried her Seder wasn’t actually bringing people together, Short’s Emhoff quoted “Dayenu”: “It would have been enough. And if you’re just vice president — ”
“Oh no,” she cut him off, “that won’t be enough.”
During her monologue, Rudolph noted how happy she was to “be here in the place that I love, … especially after a year that has been, shall we say, a real kick in the clam.” She recalled working alongside Rachel Dratch, who later appeared as herself in a taped sketch titled “The Maya-ing: A Stanley Kubrick Film” about Rudolph’s SNL memories. Tina Fey also appeared as the ghost of an alum named Gloria Zelwig, “the first one to have the idea that maybe women could talk.”
One of the episode’s most memorable moments, however, didn’t involve Rudolph but cast member Bowen Yang. He appeared during “Weekend Update” to urge everyone to “do more” to combat anti-Asian racism, folding in a clever critique of performative activism by sharing pretend social media posts, like one encouraging people to tell their Asian American and Pacific Islander friends they’re hot.
On a more serious note, Yang added: “I can’t address any of this without bringing up class, or gender, or imperialism. I don’t even want to be doing this ‘Update’ piece. I wanted to do my character, gay Passover bunny, but it’s too smart for the show.”
“Look, I’m just a comedian, I don’t have the answers, but I’m not just looking for them online — I’m looking around me,” Yang continued. “The GoFundMe for Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought back against her attacker, raised $900,000, which she immediately gave back to the community. That’s where we are as Asians. Now come meet us there.”