SNL returns with “West Side Story” star Ariana Debose, Bleachers, and Eric Adams in NYC-centric episode

For the first episode of 2022, SNL welcomed Ariana Debose to host, along with Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers as musical guest. Debose won a Golden Globe earlier this week for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and gained additional honors as the 200th woman since 1975 to host the NBC variety show.

During her monologue, Debose was joined by veteran cast member Kate McKinnon for a medley of “West Side Story” numbers, including “Tonight,” “Something’s Coming” and “America;” during “I Feel Pretty” the pair fist bumped following the famous line “I feel pretty and witty and gay!”

The show began with “Message from the President” and featured new cast member James Austin Johnson as President Joe Biden blaming the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 on too many people seeing “Spiderman: No Way Home.” Biden at one point wondered if there were other President Biden’s in the multiverse, leading Pete Davidson to arrive as a Biden variant from another universe.

Local business commercials in the New York Metro area were spoofed by Davidson and Chloe Fineman, who advertised their shop for prom and formal wear in “Formal Emporium,” with featured player Andrew Dismukes as their nerdy son.

Chris Redd made his debut as new New York City Mayor Eric Adams, in a NY1 press conference sketch where Adams made his arrival to the podium with Mase’s “Feel So Good”as walk on music. Adams bragged about the swag he brings to the office and gave stark comparison to the predecessor, who was never parodied on SNL in his eight prior years in office. 

Jack Antonoff’s NYC-based indie-pop group Bleachers performed an energetic “How Dare You Want More,” off 2021’s Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night, and was performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last year. Mark ‘Rat’ Ratner Antonoff was joined by singer-songwriter Blu DeTiger on bass, Claud on keys and Rick Antonoff, Jack’s dad, on guitar.

The Sound of Music has been a regular musical sketch number on SNL, appearing in sketches twice in the last four years. Debose’s Broadway chops were on display in “Governess” where a widower, Kenan Thompson, hired DeBose to teach his children, who sang a take on “Do-Re-Mi.”

For Bleachers’ second song, Antonoff’s 2020 collaboration with Bruce Springsteen, “Chinatown,” was featured, with Claud shifting to guitar. Antonoff recently confirmed that he will release a new Bleachers album, the group’s fourth, by the end of the year.

Rapper Roddy Ricch was originally scheduled as musical guest this evening but had to withdraw due to members of his team being exposed to COVID-19. SNL returns on January 22 with host Will Forte and musical guest Måneskin.

One sketch that was cut for time, “All On Me,” features a rapper (Chris Redd) performs a song with his entourage (Ariana DeBose, rapper Freddie Gibbs, Kenan Thompson) after signing a major deal.

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