Saturday Night Live

‘SNL' Cold Open Tackles Rittenhouse Verdict, Donald Trump Returns

The show's cold open brought back new cast member James Austin Johnson playing Donald Trump on "Justice with Judge Jeanine" while discussing the Rittenhouse trial. Simu Liu hosted with musical guest Saweetie


"Saturday Night Live" kicked off its cold open with Cecily Strong returning to play the Fox News Jeanine Pirro personality, who hosts "Justice with Judge Jeanine." She defended Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges in the killing of two men and injuring another in the Kenosha protests last year.

“That lovable scamp was put through a nightmare of a trial just for doing the bravest thing any American can do — protecting a used car lot in someone else’s town,” Pirro said.

Pirro’s first guest on the show was Judge Bruce Schroeder (played by Mikey Day), who started by telling her of the trial, “It was all standard procedure. That’s why I ordered that the prosecution not use the word ‘victims,’ they were rioters. That did not give my client an unfair advantage in any way.”

“You said, ‘my client.’ Do you mean the defendant?” Pirro interjected.

The judge replied, “Oh yeah, I keep doing that.”

Cast members Chloe Fineman and Chris Redd played two liberal pundits who were brought on to debate Pirro. When Fineman’s character stated “This is not who we are,” Redd’s character responded, “I feel like it is.”

Alex Moffat made a brief appearance as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a scene that spoofed McCarthy’s speech in Congress last week as he tried to delay the passage of the $1.9 trillion Build Back Better Act. Pirro showed a clip of “hour six” of McCarthy’s speech. Yet the clip was of McCarthy (Moffat) trying to flip over a plastic water bottle.

Pirro interjected the clip with “And that brave man stopped the Build Back Better bill from being passed … until the next day when it passed in two minutes."

Former President Donald Trump, as played by new “SNL” recruit James Austin Johnson, makes another appearance on the show in response to the Build Back Better Plan. “People are saying nobody did more for infrastructure than me and those people are people who are me,” Johnson as Trump said.

The screen split again with Trump accompanied by another "rundown" with a word graphic so viewers could follow along as he prepared his points with non-sequiturs.

“Joe Biden tried to reboot Obama and it flopped. It flopped, just like the female "Ghostbusters." Speaking of girls, why did they reboot 'Gossip Girl?'"

He continued the rundown, transitioning into a word search as he ventured onto topics such as Chris Christie, Bill Maher and Dua Lipa. “You know what, her husband, who is not very attractive, it’s terrible what they are doing with Dua Lipa’s husband, not being attractive, we have to do something about it.”

The show's host Simu Liu, star of Marvel Studios' "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings", opens his monologue with how he is the first Chinese-Canadian host on "SNL" and the first Asian Marvel superhero. 

Liu, who was born in China and grew up in Canada, noted his path to landing his big breakthrough role in “Shang-Chi." He recalled his early years working children’s birthday parties in a “'Spider-Man' suit from Walmart.”

Liu expressed how happy he is to be hosting the show's Thanksgiving episode, especially in America, “Now, in Canada, Thanksgiving is actually in October, and marks the start of the harvest season, and here in America, things are a little different,” he explained. “It’s in November, and it marks the start of Black Friday Week on Amazon Prime.”

In the first sketch, "Karaoke All-Stars" features Kenan Thompson and Chloe Fineman as hosts of a public access show in North Carolina, featuring a reel of that week's karaoke performances. Bowen Yang attempts to hit the high notes in "Take on Me" by A-ha, while Liu showcases his skills in "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys.

The first pre-taped skit of the episode highlights Thanksgiving in a fake Target commercial, poking fun at how hectic it is with families re-uniting for the holiday.

"Let's do it all again for Christmas," the voiceover says.

A military official, played by host Simu Liu, is introducing a new tool in combat for the U.S. military: "Dog Head Man." As its name suggests, it’s a man with a dog’s head. "Imagine a soldier with undying loyalty," Liu says.

The sketch used a real golden retriever as human hands demonstrated "Dog Head Man’s" abilities, like holding a knife or feeding himself a sandwich.

Liu’s co-stars in the sketch – Mikey Day, Cecily Strong and James Austin Johnson – struggled to keep it together as the dog went off script, and Day had to keep trying to get the dog to face the camera.

In "Walking in Staten," Pete Davidson pays homage to his home Staten Island, mocking Marc Cohn's song "Walking in Memphis." Method Man and Cohn make an appearance crooning "and thanks to New Jersey now we have deer."

All of them donned “I <3 Staten Island” hoodies and mused about Staten Island’s various characteristics, from the number of pizza restaurants and bagel shops to trash dumps.

Musical guest Saweetie performed "Tap In" which is the lead single off of her upcoming debut album.

"Weekend Update" kicked off with co-host Colin Jost mentioning how President Joe Biden had a "weird" Friday.

“He went under anesthesia for a colonoscopy and when he woke up, the House had passed a $2 trillion social safety net bill, the Rittenhouse verdict was announced, and a woman had technically been president for the first time ever. And while Biden was processing all that, he was rushed off to pardon a turkey named Peanut Butter,” he noted. “I mean, come on. The guy just turned 79; half the country already thinks he’s senile. You can’t drop all that on him the second he comes out of the gas.”

All things considered, Jost admitted he actually can’t believe how well the day went. “Remember David After Dentist?” he asked, referencing a viral YouTube video centered on a dazed child’s car ride home from the dental office. “I’m surprised we didn’t get Biden After Colonoscopy.”

Co-host Michael Che reported that protests are being held all around the country in response to Rittenhouse’s acquittal, “which is brave” considering what he was acquitted for. “I don’t know,” Che said, “maybe don’t tempt him?”

Che later addressed the latest fallout from Dave Chappelle's Netflix special controversy—that being that a Washington, D.C. art school is postponing renaming its theater after him. “Well, of course. Because God forbid you should name a building after someone problematic in Washington, D.C.,” Che said.

"Saturday Night Live" returns on Dec. 11 with Billie Eilish.

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