‘Saturday Night Live’: Chris Rock and Jim Carrey Riff on Current Events in Hilarious Season 46 Opener 

Saturday Night Live” aired Oct. 3 for its 46th season on NBC. After the final three episodes of season 45 were filmed entirely remote from cast members’ residences, the Emmy-winning variety series returned to 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Although it was mostly business as usual at Studio 8H, there were some noticeable changes, starting with the new opening titles in which many of the cast members were wearing masks. Chris Rock assured viewers that everyone in the studio had been tested and that precautions were taken. Most noticeably, audience members, crew members and members of the band wore mandatory masks, and even Rock was masked when he first stepped on stage. 

To the surprise of no one, the season opener kicked off with a cold skit about the first presidential debate. Although it isn’t always easy to satirize something that many feel was already incredibly ridiculous to begin with, Alec Baldwin, Jim Carrey, Maya Rudolph and Beck Bennett were up to the challenge. Baldwin and Rudolph resumed their crowd-pleasing roles as Donald Trump and Kamala Harris, and Rudolph, who just won an Emmy for her guest appearance as the now-VP candidate last season, hit a high note when she strolled out towards the end of the debate, declaring that what America really needs is a “WAP,” Women as President. Bennett also got his share of laughs as exasperated moderator Chris Wallace

As for Carrey, he did not disappoint, playing Biden as a well-meaning grandpa, stating that he just needed to stay calm and seem lucid. The climax of the whole 13-minute scene was rather cathartic, when Carey did something that a lot of people wished the real Biden could have, and that is take a remote to “pause” the habitual interruptor Trump in order to have a moment to appeal to voters’ reason.

In his opening monologue, Rock, who many would agree is one of our greatest living stand-up comedians, mostly stuck to timely topics, such as Trump’s recent Covid diagnosis, as well as Trump’s tax returns and debate performance. The best part was when he pointed out the absurdity of how easy it is to run for president (one only has to be 35 and born in America, after all), stating that there are more rules for participating in a game show.

Kenan Thompson, the longest-running SNL cast member ever, is now in his 18th season on the show. Not everyone remembers that he was a Nickelodeon star before, but Kyle Mooney reminded us in a meta sketch called “Future Ghost.” Mooney played a video game-obsessed twerpy kid in 2000 who is visited by a spirit guide (Rock) who shows him his future self in 2020, a video-obsessed bum who had to move back in with his mom (Heidi Gardner). In a hilarious twist, the kid is too impressed by modern game graphics to care about a global pandemic. But the kicker is when his mom comes down with her new husband, Thompson, and the kid is overjoyed to learn that his mom is now married to Kenan Thompson, and the whole thing is a trailer for the new Peacock series “My Mom Married Kenan Thompson.

Musical guest Megan Thee Stallion did not disappoint, wowing the crowd with not only her lyrics, dance movies, and the production design of the stage on which she performed, but also with her powerful message. During her performance of “Savage,” Megan called for the protection of black women, calling out Daniel Cameron, the Black Attorney General of Kentucky who has come under fire for his handling of the case against the police officers who killed Breonna Gardner. Megan showed off her lighter side in a few sketches, including a hilarious music video, “Bottom of Your Face,” about a man whose new lover has thus far refused to unmask in front of him.

Other highlights of the evening included Chloe Fineman doing a parody of Drew Barrymore’s new talk show, in which she not only showed off her spot-on impression of the earthy lifelong movie star but also guests Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. Mikey Day reprised a favorite from last season in which he played a reporter interviewing folks outside of the legal change of name office, including Edith Puthie (Ego Nwodim) and Mike Rodick (Bennett). And, Bowen Yang, a writer-turned-performer who brought a fresh energy when he joined the cast last year, brought down the house during “Weekend Update” as his recurring character Chinese official Chen Biao. This time, he was there to give it to Americans straight about the U.S. ban on TikTok.

All in, this season opener, ‘SNL’s’ highest-rated season premiere in four years, offered much comic relief to those who have been stuck at home since March, but there were also poignant moments, such as when Kate McKinninon briefly appeared as late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sitting in the audience, a subtle and touching tribute.

Saturday Night Live” season 46 premiered Oct. 3 and airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.