"SNL" kicked things off Saturday with yet another cold open ripped from current events, but in a continuation from last week, the sketch didn't include appearances by Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Jim Carrey as Joe Biden or Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris.
Instead, even though Donald Trump's scary, (and, frankly, seditious) but thankfully consistently failing attempts to steal the 2020 election from winner Joe Biden continued to fail in some very noteworthy ways, the show opted to focus on the other big thing people care about right now -- the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. The sketch riffed on the news of a vaccine being approved for emergency use, but that was basically nothing more than an excuse to debut Kate McKinnon's pretty amazing impression of Dr. Anthony Fauci, alongside the always game Heidi Gardner as Dr. Deborah Birx.
The sketch -- a CNN parody featuring Beck Bennett as Wolf Blitzer -- was something of a return to the tendency "SNL" sometimes has to try a little too hard to both-sides the big issues of the day. (More on that momentarily.) But at least early on it got in a good dig at Dr. Birx, who throughout 2020 has been far more visibly willing to go out of her way to suck up to Trump than Fauci:
"The vaccine is approved and I am officially joining the Biden Administration to continue the fight against COVID," McKinnon's Fauci said after being introduced.
"And I think I'll be joining as well. Right? Remember when Trump said to inject bleach and I did a stanky little face? And I almost whispered, 'No.' Remember?" said Gardner's Birx.
Then came the mild both-sidesing, as the sketch did a hard-to-understand joke that implied that the government will be going out of its way to make sure California and New York get the vaccine before anyone else.
"We're gonna distribute to states alphabetically, starting with Acalifornia and Bnew York," McKinnon's Fauci said. Suffice to say we don't know what this joke is supposed to refer to, as the government, including the IRL Fauci, has been very clear about how the vaccine will roll out.
Following that oddity, the jokes got back to stuff that doesn't require that the audience believe conspiracy theories in order to understand.
"And the distribution will vary based on the locale," McKinnon's Fauci said. "Right right, in New Orleans we're tossing the vaccines up to balconies like Mardi Gras beads. The more you show, the more you get."
"North Carolina's vaccine will be vinegar-based, while South Carolina's will be mustard-based," said Gardner's Birx. "In New York the vaccine vessels will be very thin on the bottom, whereas in Chicago, it will be more of a deep dish."
"Who will get the first vaccine here in the United States?" asked Beck Bennet as CNN's Wolf Blitzer a little bit later.
"Here's how we're gonna do it. First, healthcare workers, you McSteamies and McDreamies and what have you," Fauci said.
"Next we have anybody named Mildred, Horace, Blanche, Mabel or Walter," added Birx.
"I'm talking about Super Seniors. Anyone who pays for Red Lobster with a Diner's Club card," Fauci continued.
The jokes continued along these lines until they reached the "Live from New York..." part, which came just over 5 minutes in, surprisingly early for a season where these opening sketches sometimes blow past 10 minutes. Though that's just more time to watch musical guest Bruce Springsteen as far as we're concerned.
Meanwhile, it looks like we'll have to wait a bit longer for more appearances by Trump, Carrey and Rudolph. Perhaps they'll be back for next week's Christmas episode of "SNL," which happens to come just a few days after the electoral college finally convenes to formally acknowledge what everyone knows is true, that Donald Trump lost.