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SNL Took Aim at the Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout
Is there any character Kate McKinnon can’t play? During the cold open of last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, McKinnon turned in a convincing performance as America’s Sweetheart — Dr. Anthony Fauci. The sketch riffed on the FDA’s recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine and found humor in the lack of information regarding its distribution. As a different character of McKinnon’s would say, “we do not know dis.”
Describing them as the “American Gothic of the whole Coronavirus situation,” Beck Bennett’s Wolf Blitzer introduced Heidi Gardner as Dr. Deborah Birx and McKinnon as Dr. Fauci to rapturous applause from the audience. “Let’s try and keep the ‘woos’ to a minimum please,” said Mckinnon in Fauci’s signature huffy New York accent. “As you all know, ‘woos’ spread droplets.”
“Thank you for being here. I understand we’re finally getting some good news.” said Bennett’s Blitzer. “Yes, the vaccine is approved. And I am officially joining the Biden administration to continue the fight against Covid,” responded McKinnon.
“And I think I’ll be joining as well, right?” asked Gardner ashamedly. “Remember when Trump said to inject bleach, and I did a stanky little face, and I almost whispered ‘no.’ Remember?” Gardner’s dog-with-its-tail-between-its-legs approach to playing Dr. Birx might’ve been the highlight of the sketch had she not been on stage with McKinnon, whose unmatchable star power tends to blot out her castmates’ performances in every sketch.
Ignoring Dr. Birx’s question, Fauci then compared the U.S. government’s approach to the vaccination rollout to its entrance into World War II. “Yeah, we’re doing this vaccine World War II style. We’re making England go in first and then we swoop in at the end and steal the spotlight. Tom Hanks will make ten movies about it. And when it’s all over you can kiss any nurse you want.”
McKinnon and Gardner continued to describe the government’s hamfisted approach to distribution while serving up easy jokes about when and how different states will receive their portion of the vaccines. When asked by Bennett’s Blitzer what he thought of “the federal government’s overall vaccine plan,” McKinnon’s Fauci compared it to his disastrous attempt at throwing out the opening pitch at a Nationals baseball game. That’s when a woman threw her bra on stage, giving McKinnon the opportunity to deliver the sketch’s best joke: “This keeps happening … Throughout this whole thing I’ve been the only one saying facts so some people got a crush on me … Any other year I’m a two. This year I’m a 10.”
Abigail Covington is a journalist and cultural critic based in Brooklyn, New York but originally from North Carolina, whose work has appeared in Slate, The Nation, Oxford American, and Pitchfork
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