A lot has changed in the last week. On Monday, society was largely back to normal, as it had been for months and months, all thanks to vaccines. People were gearing up for some holiday travel. They were going to in-person events, like movies and Broadway shows. In the back of everyone’s mind, there was the Omicron variant, far more transmissible but also — if you’re vaxxed — far less deadly. Then cases started spiking. New York City, once the epicenter of the pandemic, suddenly had days of record-breaking cases. Shows got cancelled. Events were postponed. (People are still flocking to the movies, or at least one of them.) And now it’s affected tonight’s Paul Rudd-hosted SNL, too.
As per Deadline, what was supposed to be a joyous occasion — last episode of 2021, host Paul Rudd’s acceptance into the “five timer’s club” — will still happen. It will just be dramatically scaled back.
“Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of Saturday Night Live and the show will have limited cast and crew,” a spokesperson for SNL announced on Saturday. “The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol.”
It’s a return to SNL in the pre-vaccine days of the pandemic, when the performers played to little or no crowds, doing their best to deliver laughs while social distancing and staying safe. At the early day of the pandemic, in spring of 2020, the show dramatically revamped itself, with performers doing everything from their home over their computers and assorted gizmos, with sometimes outside-the-box results.
SNL, of course, records in New York City, which has transformed from a largely reawaken mecca of culture and commerce into a place of long COVID testing lines, people scrambling to get results before boarding planes, trains, and automobiles. On Friday, New York State counted 21,027 new cases — a record, up from the original peak of 19,942, in January of 2021.
But the show must go on, albeit a modified version. Host Rudd will be joined by musical guest Charli XCX.