‘SNL’: Current and Former Cast Members Pay Tribute to Sketch Music Producer Hal Willner (Video)

Willner died Tuesday from symptoms consistent with COVID-19

This weekend’s coronavirus quarantine episode of “Saturday Night Live” ended not with a sketch or a musical performance, but with a touching tribute to Hal Willner, the composer who produced music for the show’s sketches.

Willner, who died Tuesday from an illness that’s symptoms were consistent with COVID-19, had been with “SNL” since 1981 and served as the sketch music producer for nearly two decades. During his 39 years with the show, he worked alongside hundreds of its most successful and influential cast members, many of whom were featured in the tribute.

The clip began with Kate McKinnon, who, like everyone else, taped her tribute from home since she is self-quarantining. “Everything at ‘SNL’ happens really quickly. Except some of the sketches that the writers write are more cinematic in quality, so they need to be scored like a movie in order to make sense and make the jokes land,” she said. “And the music becomes such an integral part of the sketch that you kind of don’t notice it but without it, it wouldn’t make any sense.”

“But on ‘SNL,’ the guy who scores it only has a few hours. The guy’s name is Hal Willner, and we lost him this week,” she concluded.

McKinnon was followed by former and current cast members Adam Sandler, Kenan Thompson, John Mulaney, Pete Davidson, Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, who offered kind words of their own. And then a murderers row of “SNL” alums appeared onscreen together to sing Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day.” Among them were Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Molly Shannon and more.

Watch the whole clip above.