“Saturday Night Live” returned last night for the show’s first episode of 2022 after last month’s scaled-back 2021 finale hosted by Paul Rudd.
The cold open kicked off with an important message from President Joe Biden, portrayed by featured player James Austin Johnson, about the surge in omicron cases nationwide. Johnson addressed the string of unfortunate events caused by COVID-19, from disrupted holidays and canceled weddings to how it’s affecting children in school. Luckily, he had a solution.
“America, I’m here to tell you there’s one simple thing you could do to make this virus go away,” Johnson said. “Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man.’”
Johnson quickly laid out his logic.
"Think about it. When did ‘Spider-Man’ come out? December 17," he said. "When did every single person get omicron? The week after December 17. Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man!’”
The reporters that Johnson was addressing — played by 'SNL' cast members including Ego Nwodim and Bowen Yang — were a little less convinced.
“I’m sorry, did you really just blame the entire spread of omicron on people seeing ‘Spider-Man?’” asked Nwodim's skeptical reporter, while Yang's character tried to get the president to clarify, asking if the pandemic might end if people stopped going to the movies in general.
“I didn’t say don’t go to the movies, I said stop seeing ‘Spider-Man.’ See anything else!” Johnson replied.
Heidi Gardner's reporter asked if Johnson’s theory was based on data, to which he replied confidently, “Yes, everyone in America has seen ‘Spider-Man’ like eight times. Everyone in America also has COVID. Stop seeing ‘Spider-Man!’”
When Yang and Gardner asked about the president’s thoughts on experts worried about the difficulty of getting a coronavirus test, Johnson had a simple, "Spider-Man"-based solution.
“You want to know if you have COVID?" Johnson asked. "Look at your hand. Is it holding a ticket that says you recently went to see ‘Spider-Man?’ If so, then you have COVID.”
After bringing up “Spider-Man” as the cause and solution for various political issues in the United States and around the world — including for legislative battles and Russia's presence on the Ukranian border — Johnson asked “the nerd” (Andrew Dismukes) for one last question.
"Mr. President, it sounds like you want people to stop seeing ’Spider-Man.’ But do you think that elsewhere in the multiverse that there’s a version of you that wants people to see ‘Spider-Man?’” asked Dismukes' character, referencing a science-fiction theory that there are multiple universes, with different timelines playing out in each.
“Finally, a good question! I’ve actually thought about this a lot. I’ve consulted with Dr. Fauci and Dr. Strange," Johnson said, referencing one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's heroes. "As far as I can tell, there are at least three Joe Bidens."
Nwodim challenged Johnson on the concept of living in a "Spider-Man-style multiverse," but Johnson contended that living in an alternate universe might make current events more believable.
"I mean, seriously! Don’t you wake up every morning, look at the news, and think ‘This can’t be right. This is all crazy!’?” Johnson asked.
“People got vaccinated and he pandemic got worse,” he continued. “You have to wear a mask at a restaurant for the 10 feet until you sit down then you take if off for the whole meal unless you go to the bathroom and then you gotta put it back on. Is the COVID in the bathroom? How does any of it make sense?”
After Gardner asked if Johnson was "OK," he confirmed he was feeling good “for the first time” and he could finally see clearly, because "the webs" had fallen from his eyes. Immediately after this revelation, Johnson was greeted by a futuristic-looking Pete Davidson, who claimed to be a version of Biden from another universe — one of the other Bidens that Johnson's character had mentioned earlier in the skit.
Davidson explained that the present universe — the one that Johnson was the president of — was nearing collapse after it was created “as a joke starting in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series."
Davidson pacified Johnson and the journalists by letting them know that everyone was doing much better in the real universe. Well, maybe not everyone.
“Everyone on earth is better off in the real world except one man named Pete Davidson,” Davidson said. “Your world is maybe more fun for him.”Later in the episode, “West Side Story” star Ariana DeBose made her hosting debut, while Bleachers, fronted by Jack Antonoff, stepped in as musical guest after Roddy Ricch dropped out last week after he was exposed to COVID-19.