Due to the spike in COVID cases in the country and the Omicron variant, the last episode of Saturday Night Live of 2021, with host Paul Rudd, canceled the studio audience, gave most of the cast and crew the night off, and re-ran several skits on Saturday (12/18). Keenan Thompson and Michael Che were the only cast members present.
Rudd, now a five-time host of SNL, was introduced by five-time host Tom Hanks as well as five-time host Tina Fey (and former head writer and cast member) in the Christmas episode opener.
Hanks said in part, “In the interest of safety, we do not have an audience, and we sent home our cast most of our crew. As you know, I started the five timers club,” with Fey chiming in, “Oh, like he started COVID,” before introducing Rudd. Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were two of the first celebrities to test positive for COVID-19.
Hours before the show, SNL announced the show would have a limited cast and crew “due to the recent spike in the omicron variant,” adding “the show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol.”
Tom Hanks and Tina Fey welcome Paul Rudd to the Five-Timers Club! pic.twitter.com/tidzhofdtx— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) December 19, 2021