Fey had already appeared at the top of this Saturday night’s show, to join Tom Hanks in welcoming host Paul Rudd to the 5-Timers Club. With almost all of the cast sent home and limited crew on hand, Weekend Update was delivered on the main stage, with Fey and Michael Che deciding to go ahead and “read these dumb jokes” to an audience of just Hanks, Rudd and Kenan Thompson.
Speculation about Fey’s potential appearance began to circulate Saturday evening, not long after SNL opted to forgo a live audience for the Rudd-hosted installment, citing concerns about the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. (In turn, musical guest Charli XCX scrapped her planned performances.) The New York Post went on to report that multiple SNL cast members had tested positive for COVID ahead of Saturday’s show, resulting in Jost’s decision not to participate in the live broadcast.
Fey first served as SNL‘s Weekend Update co-anchor in 2000, alongside Jimmy Fallon, after she was named the show’s first female head writer. After Fallon left the series in 2004, Fey and Amy Poehler co-anchored together until Fey departed in 2006. She’s returned to SNL on several occasions since then, including turns as host in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 (with Poehler) and 2018.