Entertainment

'SNL' Suffers Through Its First Zoom Call in its Entirely at Home Episode

In this brave new world of social distancing, our lexicon is expanding. Now Zoom, once thought of as just a cute way to describe someone going super fast, is a noun, a verb, and the primary means of communication. "Zoom," the video conferencing system, has become the predominant way to virtually gather, but it can difficult to figure out for the technologically challenged. That's the phenomenon Saturday Night Live explored in its first episode produced entirely remotely. 

The sketch documented the very first Zoom call of "SalesCorp Industries" featuring Henriette and Nan, two doddering receptionists portrayed by Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon. Bryant and McKinnon nail the strange relationship those that aren't familiar with video chatting have with their newfound webcams, seemingly unable to ascertain where they should be looking or just how visible they are. Soon these two ladies start to fully crumble under the pressures of this era, both revealing that they are completely without toilet paper. At least Bryant's Henriette managed to figure out how to get a Zoom background and pay tribute to her favorite doctor, ABC's The Good Doctor. (Props to Henriette. Even I had a hard time with that one.) 

SNL at Home was a strange and often delightful experiment. Cast members recorded sketches from the privacy of their homes, all proudly on display in the refashioned opening credits. Tom Hanks, recovered from his bout with coronavirus, "hosted." Chris Martin was the musical guest, performing Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm." Pete Davidson's mom filmed his Drake parody from her basement. Chloe Fineman showed off some perfect impressions, including a dead-on Carole Baskin. Larry David cameo'd as Bernie Sanders. But, finally, and most movingly, the show paid tribute to one of their own who died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, music producer Hal Wilner. Veterans of the show, including Adam Sandler and Tina Fey, appeared to memorialize the composer. While not without its awkward moments, the show on a whole was an impressive example of making the most out of extraordinary times. 

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.