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Paul Rudd hosts scaled-down 'SNL' holiday show; Charli XCX drops out

The last episode of the year featured mostly pre-taped segments and no live musical performance due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in New York City.

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Paul Rudd hosted this weekend's edition of "Saturday Night Live."   File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Paul Rudd hosted this weekend's edition of "Saturday Night Live."   File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Tina Fey, Tom Hanks and Kenan Thompson welcomed Saturday Night Live guest host Paul Rudd to the sketch-comedy show's 5-Timers Club this weekend for an episode that had to be scaled down due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in New York City.

The trio bestowed upon Rudd a velvet smoking jacket with a "5" on the pocket as they explained the cast and most of the crew had been sent home due to a rise in cases in New York City where the show is taped.

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Steve Martin and Martin Short appeared in a pre-recorded message congratulating Rudd on his milestone appearance on SNL.

There was no studio audience and only a few crew members were heard laughing and clapping for the stars.

"Don't worry, we still have a great show for everybody, including brand new sketches taped earlier this week," Thompson told viewers.

"We're also going to show some of our personal favorite sketches from past episodes," Fey added.

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"It's going to be a little bit like the new Beatles documentary: a lot of old footage, but enough new stuff where you are like, 'OK, yeah, I'll watch that,'" joked Rudd.

This was the show's last new episode for the year.

The evening's musical guest Charli XCX canceled her planned live appearance, but appeared as a bird in a pre-taped sketch about a little boy holding up a department store checkout line to tell a fellow customer about a pet that went missing just before Christmas.

Other new videos showed Pete Davidson discovering the true meaning of Christmas; and Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon playing women desperate for grandchildren in a Home Goods holiday commercial.

Fey and Michael Che also read the jokes about current events for the "Weekend Update" segment in front of an exclusive audience that included Hanks, Rudd and Thompson. Usual "Weeked Update" member Colin Jost was not on the show Saturday.

The show's Twitter feed said hours before the broadcast: "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."

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"The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol."

Last year, at the height of the pandemic, SNL cast members taped comedic segments from their homes.

As vaccines became widely available, the show returned to its Manhattan studio with audience members who were vaccinated and masked.

Rudd can now be seen starring in the TV show The Shrink Next Door and the blockbuster movie, Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

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