A lot of history has been made recently — though fortunately, this week, Saturday Night Live got thrown a softball: the confirmation of the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. Which means that this week’s cold open was able to be both topical and satirical and kind of feel good, which is a sweet spot the show manages really well.
Justice-in-waiting Ketanji Brown Jackson (played by Ego Nwodim) is in the Oval Office with the President. Biden (James Austin Johnson) invites her to imagine talking to the great Americans who came before her, giving the cast a chance to break out some great historical impressions.
Kate McKinnon is on first as Ruth Bader Ginsburg and notes that, despite how far we’ve come, we’ve still got a long way to go. In fact, the divisiveness in America has gotten worse since her time. Can anyone imagine a Supreme Court Justice being confirmed on a 96-3 vote today? She also gets in a sick “Gins-burn” on Ted Cruz, who’s always good for a laugh.
Kenan Thompson comes on next as Thurgood Marshall, who notices how little things have changed. “Is there a threat of nuclear war with Russia? Inflation still poppin’ off? Is Joe Biden still a politician?” Punkie Johnson follows as Harriet Tubman, who is happy for Jackson but also thinks a lifetime appointment to the Court is a trap. Her advice to KBJ? “Light two candles and meet me in the farmhouse at midnight” if she wants to escape.
Chris Redd has a delightful turn as the first Black baseball player in the major leagues, Jackie Robinson. He comes to learn via Judge Jackson that the only thing that stings more then getting beaned by a hurled battery is the fact that the average MLB salary is “$4 million” — and even so-so players can make bank!
It’s a fun, light sketch which, again, is a rarity for the SNL cold open these days. But any opportunity to see McKinnon’s Ginsburg or Redd’s incredulous Robinson should be seized upon whenever it arises.
Watch the clip by pressing PLAY above, and be sure to grade Jake Gyllenhaal’s return as host.