Bowen Yang Seemingly Hints Not ‘Everyone’ Was Happy to Have Nikki Haley on ‘SNL’

Bowen Yang Reacts to Nikki Haleys Saturday Night Live Cameo With Shady Photo
Bowen Yang Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic/Getty Images
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Bowen Yang seemingly hinted that he — and some of his Saturday Night Live castmates — weren’t pleased by Nikki Haley’s recent cameo appearance on the show.

Yang, 33, shared an Instagram photo of a handwritten note for Haley, 52, seemingly left backstage at SNL’s New York City studio ahead of the Saturday, February 3, episode. “Amb. Haley — welcome to Studio 8H! From, Lorne + everyone at SNL,” read the message.

In his caption, Yang wrote, “Everyone!” and added a smiling emoticon.

While Yang turned off the comments on the Monday, February 5, post, fans on X were quick to theorize that the Instagram post was a dig at SNL’s decision to host Haley. The former United Nations ambassador made a cameo in the cold open on Saturday, playing herself in a sketch where former President Donald Trump (James Austin Johnson) explained why he declined to debate her.

Bowen Yang Reacts to Nikki Haleys Saturday Night Live Cameo With Shady Photo
Courtesy of Bowen Yang/Instagram

During the sketch, host Ayo Edebiri asked Haley, who is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination, to clarify her beliefs on whether slavery caused the American Civil War. “I was just curious, what would you say was the main cause of the Civil War?” Edebiri, 28, asked. “And do you think it starts with an ‘s’ and ends with a ‘lavery?’”

Haley replied, “Yeah, I probably should have said that the first time.”

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Edebiri was referencing a December 2023 town hall in New Hampshire where a voter asked Haley what caused the Civil War. “I think the cause of the Civil War was basically how government was going to run,” the former South Carolina governor replied. “The freedoms and what people could and couldn’t do.”

Haley’s SNL appearance was met with disapproval from both fans and critics, with The Atlantic calling the cameo “a big miss.”

Bowen Yang Reacts to Nikki Haleys Saturday Night Live Cameo With Shady Photo
Nikki Haley Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Some viewers were even more incensed when an ad for the next new episode of SNL noted that comedian Shane Gillis will be the host. Gillis, 36, was famously fired from SNL in 2019 before ever appearing on the show after making comments that creator and showrunner Lorne Michaels deemed “offensive, hurtful and unacceptable." In an episode of his podcast, Gillis had used anti-Asian and homophobic slurs. Gillis was set to join the same year that Yang debuted on the long-running comedy series.

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“Bowen Yang having a rough three weeks at #SNL,” one observer wrote via X after Saturday’s episode aired. “I really hope this doesn’t feel as pointedly cruel for him as it does from the outside.” Another fan shared an image of the Gillis hosting announcement with the comment, “Bowen Yang deserves so much better than all the weird s–t they've made him put up with.”

Earlier this year, fans noticed that Yang seemed to stand as far away as possible from Dave Chappelle after the January 27 episode. Dakota Johnson was the guest host that evening, but Chappelle, 50, appeared on stage during the good nights. Chappelle has previously come under fire for his comments about the LGBTQIA+ community.