‘Saturday Night Live’ Mixes a Super Bowl Preview with COVID Politics (Watch)

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Danielle Turchiano
·4 min read
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Typically the cold opens of “Saturday Night Live” parody the politics of the past week, but for its second show of 2021, the NBC late-night sketch comedy series looked ahead — to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Kenan Thompson, who portrayed sportscaster James Brown in the sketch, which you can watch above, kicked things off acknowledging the complications of late, but that “today we come together in the spirit of football — and to murder millions of chickens for their delicious wings.”

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However, given what the NFL has gone through in recent months with new COVID health and safety guidelines and a high volume of players testing position, that became part of the discussion for Thompson’s Brown, Chris Redd’s Nate Burleson, Mikey Day’s Phil Sims and Beck Bennett’s Boomer Esiason.

They also explored how companies advertising during the Super Bowl were planning to spread the word about the COVID vaccine by showing a fake Budweister ad that digitally altered one of its classic Clydesdale moments to show a horse kicking a syringe so far it ended up going through a window, into the arm of an elderly woman sitting in her room.

“I think that could be misleading,” Day-as-Sims said.

This was followed up by another Budweiser ad — this time for the anti-vaxxers and capitalizing on their other famous campaign, the frogs. In it, a frog croaked out, “Don’t trust Budweiser.”

“It’s nice to hear both sides of the issue,” Day-as-Sims said.

Additionally, they couldn’t avoid discussing the need for inclusion, but rather than talking about Colin Kaepernick starting a movement by taking a knee during the National Anthem, Thompson’s Brown focused on the “variety of options” they are offering viewers for enjoying this year’s event.

“The game is also being simulcast on the Bravo network, where it’s hosted by Andy Cohen,” Day-as-Sims said. Although, there, he noted, it would be called “Old Hag vs. Young Slut.”

They also acknowledged Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, but instead of shouting out the Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl, they said that cabler was offering an original movie entitled “The Woman Who Married Her Cat.” And they previewed both a progressive ad (in which Cheez-Its used footage of important Black figures throughout history to tug at heartstrings) and a conservative one, in which Papa John’s Pizza said they understand people want “no child sex trafficking in the basement … You’ll have to get that at Hillary’s pizzeria.”

Flipping back to the game itself, which Thompson-as-Brown called “four hours of television for 11 minutes of action,” they spoke with Chiefs coach Andy Reid (played by Aidy Bryant), as well as Tamp Bay’s coach, Bruce Arians, who Bryant also played. Both coaches repeated the same strategy for winning the game, which included running it and passing it.

When it came to these sportscasters making predictions for the event, though, they included “COVID will thank the crowd for an amazing opportunity,” that Cardi B would do a “disturbing commercial called ‘Wet Ass Pepsi,'” and that the Kia hamsters would do a murder-suicide, while the Green M&M would “finally go full porn.”

Later, the episode continued the conversation around the Super Bowl and COVID through a sketch that saw four friends (episode host Daniel Levy and cast members Bennett, Redd Heidi Gardner and Kyle Mooney) get together for a Super Bowl party and decide to take their masks off because they had all been super safe. Of course, as the sketch went on, it was revealed just how untrue that declaration was, starting simply with the fact that Bennett’s character had dined outdoors with his wife recently but quickly escalating to learn that he was still working as a mouth masseuse, while Redd’s character was still going to his wrestling club, Mooney’s was having “raw dog sex with strangers in the park” and Levy’s has been consistently traveling.

After they all stuck their hands in a giant pot of chili because they thought sharing utensils would be unsanitary, they realized they couldn’t really smell or taste what they were eating.

“Do you guys think…?” Redd trailed off.

“No, dude, we’ve been doing everything right,” replied Mooney.

They hugged, but then the sketch faded to black on them, and Kate McKinnon came out as Dr. Anthony Fauci to deliver a PSA to camera that “what you just saw is the wrong way to Super Bowl.” How to do so responsibly? “At home, in a mask, lights off, no friends.”

“Saturday Night Live” airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.

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