Paul Rudd earned a coveted spot in the "Five-Timers Club" hosting "Saturday Night Live" last night, but the 2021 finale was anything but usual as the show pivoted in response to surging coronavirus cases.
With a shoestring cast, Rudd helmed the show with help from Tom Hanks and Tina Fey, who have both hosted the show five times themselves.
While there are some who have hosted the show even more times, being invited back to host the classic comedy show five times is a landmark honor for most performers. Hanks was the first one to mention the elite club back in 1990.
Rudd joked that he was "extremely disappointed" to earn such a milestone while hosting the pared-down version of "SNL."
However, the show still went on: Rudd received a smoking jacket emblazoned with a number "5" on it and also got a taped message from another five timer, Steve Martin, though Rudd's name sounded like it was dubbed into a message intended for Hanks.
"SNL" tweeted an announcement about the 2021 finale on Saturday, saying that the show would be a lot more like what viewers saw in 2020, when cast members taped skits from their homes.
"Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of 'Saturday Night Live' and the show will have limited cast and crew," the show tweeted.
Rudd and the small cast and crew made the best of things, closing out 2021 with some laughs as Americans keep a watchful eye on the omicron variant.
The show featured no live sketches, but used skits filmed earlier in the week and classic material from years past to deliver plenty of laughs. In the "Weekend Update" segment, Fey stepped in for usual host Colin Jost, joining Michael Che on stage to read jokes to an audience made up of just Hanks, Rudd and cast member Kenan Thompson.
"It's not what you think," Fey said, regarding why usual anchor Jost was absent. "He's having work done."
The atmosphere was definitely more casual, with Fey acknowledging that she butchered the punchline of a joke about being the first person to get a COVID shot in the US by pretending the be a nurse.
In addition to the lack of live sketches and the removal of the live audience, the show had no musical guest. Scheduled performer Charli XCX tweeted her regrets at being unable to perform on the show.
"I am devastated and heartbroken," wrote the singer, saying she and all of her crews and teams had worked hard to bring "the most amazing musical performance to life" but that it just wasn't possible with the limited crew.
"It can't happen this time but I'll be back!" she promised, ending her Tweet by urging viewers to get vaccinated if they are not already.