Fey had already appeared at the top of this Saturday night’s show, joining Tom Hanks to welcome host Paul Rudd to the 5-Timers Club. With nearly the entire cast sent home and a limited crew on hand, Weekend Update was delivered to the main stage, with Fey and Michael Che deciding to go ahead and “read these silly jokes” in front of an audience of just Hanks, Rudd and Kenan Thompson.
Speculation about Fey’s possible appearance started circulating Saturday night, not long after SNL chose to forego a live audience for the Rudd-hosted episode, citing concerns about the novel Omicron strain of the coronavirus. (In turn, musical guest Charli XCX canceled her scheduled appearances.) New York Post went on to report that several SNL cast members had tested positive for COVID prior to 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, along with Jimmy Fallon, after she was named the show’s first female lead writer. After Fallon left the series in 2004, Fey and Amy Poehler anchored together until Fey left in 2006. She returns to SNL several times since, including hosting turns in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 (with Poehler) and 2018.