WATCH: The 5 Best Moments From ‘SNL’ Most-Watched Season Premiere In 4 Years

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“Saturday Night Live” was live from New York for the first time since the coronavirus lockdowns began last spring. And the news sketch show garnered its largest first-season audience in four years while recapping the particularly manic news cycle of the previous week.

“SNL” has boasted of renowned lineup for its 30 Rock comeback, including comedian Chris Rock as host, rapper Megan Thee Stallion as musical guest – and, of course, Jim. Carrey making his debut as former Vice President Joe Biden alongside guest stars Alec Baldwin and Maya Rudolph reprising their roles as President Donald Trump and Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris, respectively. The show drew a total of 7.765 million viewers, according to early figures from Nielsen Media Research, making it CMCSA owned by Comcast,
-0.86%
The NBC show’s most watched debut since 2016, when Margot Robbie hosted and The Weeknd starred.

Also note: the live audience, largely made up of first responders, were paid to show up, the The New York Times reported. That’s because New York’s pandemic reopening guidelines still ban audiences from attending live TV shows – unless the show pays its crowd like cast members.

Here are four of the liveliest moments from “Saturday Night Live” Season 46 premiere this weekend.

Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden takes on Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump for the first time

The cold opening of “SNL” took place in last Tuesday’s presidential debate, with the announcer noting, “Tuesday looks like 100 days.”

Carrey waltzed with a big smile and Biden’s iconic aviator sunglasses, and put on a show measuring whether his and Trump’s podiums were socially six feet apart. Baldwin’s Trump interrupted Carrey’s Biden several times, causing Carrey to pull out a remote at one point and hit a mute button to keep Baldwin from interrupting again. “I believe in science and karma,” Carrey’s Biden said. “Now imagine if science and karma could somehow team up to send all of us a message about how dangerous this virus is…” he continued, alluding to Trump’s subsequent diagnosis of COVID- 19.

Rudolph’s Harris also came out in the middle of the debate to tell the “boys” to try and get the debate back on track, and called himself the “HVPIC” (aka Hot Vice President in Charge.)

Watch it here:

Chris Rock hugs US government in opening monologue

The comedy star and former “SNL” cast member opened by referring to Trump’s COVID hospitalization (“My heart goes to COVID,” he said) and noting that he has been so tested for the virus this week, “I haven’t had that much noise since sharing a dressing room with Chris Farley.

But he got more serious when he approached the Americans’ relationship with their government. “Does it work?” he asked, suggesting it should be dropped in favor of a new system.

“We agreed in the United States that we shouldn’t have kings, but we have dukes and duchesses who run the Senate and Congress, making decisions for the poor,” he said. “The rich make decisions for the poor – it’s like your handsome friend is giving you dating advice.”

Watch it here:

The audience consisted of first responders

The show gave the men and women who worked on the front lines during the pandemic the best seats in the house. “SNL” is the first live television show on the network to bring audiences back to the studio during the pandemic. Everyone was pre-tested for the virus and they wore masks when seated in the audience. The crew members wore masks and the group was also socially distanced.

Rock gave the first responders a special shout and joked, “They’re so good, we’re letting people die tonight so they can see a good show.”

Many viewers, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, hailed the move on social media.

And as a bonus, the public was paid to attend, as part of a loophole in New York’s reopening rules, which still ban the public from attending live TV shows. Sean Ludwig, who attended the premiere of “SNL”, told the New York Times that he and seven friends who had accompanied him each received a check for $ 150 from Universal Television, a division of NBC’s parent company, after the show. “We had no idea we would be paid until we received the checks,” Ludwig said. “We were all very pleasantly surprised. “

Megan Thee Stallion Makes Black Lives Matter Statement During Her Performance

The “Savage” and “Don’t Stop” rapper paused her very first “SNL” set to play audio from equal rights activists such as Malcolm X while screens behind her flash messages like ” Protect Black Women ”or broken by bullet holes images.

“We need to protect our black women and love our black women… because at the end of the day we need our black women,” she said, before also stating that black men need to be protected and people need to be protected. stand up for them.

“Because at the end of the day we are tired of seeing the hashtags of our black men,” she added, referring to the deaths this year of Ahmaud Arbury and George Floyd, as well as of Breonna. Taylor, who sparked protests for equality and against police brutality across the country.

Watch it here:

‘Weekend Update’ honors the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The week’s news recap segment ended with the camera cutting to the audience, where actress and comedian Kate McKinnon sat dressed as the late Supreme Court judge, complete with RBG’s signature lace collar. The actress then put her hand over her heart and lowered her head, and a message stating “Rest in Power” was displayed on the screen.

Stay up to date with MarketWatch’s election coverage here.

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