“Saturday Night Live” forewent its usual political cold open sketch and began Saturday’s show with a solemn performance by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York in a show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
The show returned to the airwaves after an extended hiatus to accommodate NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage, with former “SNL” writer John Mulaney hosting for the fifth time.
The comic addressed his recent rehabilitation from cocaine addiction in his monologue.
“It’s wonderful to be in a place that’s always emphasized sobriety and mental health,” he cracked, while discussing his recovery.
In the lead skit, Mulaney played a monkey who presided over a civil case where a woman was mauled by a monkey, as lawyers Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong appealed to the primate’s animal instincts to win the judge’s favor.
The animal-related humor continued in a fake commercial as Strong and Heidi Gardner portrayed dog owners who got into a heated supermarket argument about the quality of their dog food. Mulaney played an impotent man who successfully pressured Gardner into spending $74 on a grass-fed poultry blend.
The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York performed during the opening of “Saturday Night Live” on Feb. 26, 2022.SNL / YoutubeOne sketch lampooned the ever-evolving CDC mask mandates, as a group of politically correct people tiptoed around the effectiveness of mask-wearing at a dinner fraught with tension.
“Did I have to dump my oldest friend just because he didn’t get a booster?” Mulaney asked, as his friends played by Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Bowen Yang recoiled in horror.
A video by the “Please Don’t Destroy” comedy group video imagined a new COVID-19 variant that only had wonderful side effects. Paul Rudd and Al Roker joined their office party and Dr. Anthony Fauci hit the clubs to celebrate the new variant, which gave patients the feeling of “having a beer with an old friend” while they grew “long luscious locks.”
Rudd, Steve Martin, Candice Bergen, Tina Fey and Elliott Gould made cameos to welcome Mulaney into their “Five Timers” club for frequent hosts.
“Congratulations John — and let me be the first person to say, who are you?,” Bergen asked.
“Candice you don’t know me but if you have a niece or nephew who is bad at sports, they might,” he replied.
Conan O’Brien crashed the party to yell the tagline “live from New York, it’s Saturday night,” which was not included in the show’s somber opening.
A rare guestless and short “Weekend Update” segment began with fake news anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che mining the war in Ukraine for material.
“Putin launched the attack with support of allies like Belarus and Tucker Carlson,” Jost cracked.
“This is a tough subject to make jokes about,” Che said. “I’ve seen attacks like this on other countries, but never a white one.”
John Mulaney (center) handled hosting duties while LCD Soundsystem served as the show’s musical guest.Rosalind O’Connor/NBCIn a nod to his epic 2019 “Bodega Bathroom” skit, Mulaney played a New York City subway newsstand clerk who tried to dissuade straphangers Chris Redd and Andrew Dismukes from buying a churro from an unlicensed platform vendor. Elaborate song-and-dance routines ensued, influenced by “Fiddler on the Roof” and “South Pacific,” and featuring a subway mole man and a woman high on bath salts.
“This is the F train running on the Q tracks, skipping random stops when I feel like it,” conductor Punkie Johnson said, as Alex Moffat played a trench coat-wearing subway pervert who put his own spin on “Singing in the Rain.”
The skit ended with the Guardian Angels facing off with a drunk self-proclaimed “subway Jesus,” played by Bryant in a spoof on “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Fresh off a residency at Brooklyn Steel, local band LCD Soundsystem played two songs from their eponymous 2005 debut record, “Thrills” and “Yr City’s a Sucker.”
SNL is set to return March 5 with actor Oscar Isaac hosting and British pop singer Charli XCX as musical guest.