‘SNL’ cold open revels in politics; Ramy Youssef prays for Palestinians and hostages

Amid an election year with promises of divergent visions of America, “Saturday Night Live” dove in to the politics of 2024 to find punchlines.

The show opened with a satirical television special celebrating Easter, “The Resurrection,” which recounts the story of three women who witnessed the return of Jesus.

It was quickly interrupted by a flash of light and smoke, with one of the characters asking, “Is it Jesus?”

“Basically, yes,” said James Austin Johnson as former President Donald Trump as he emerged from the flash.

He dismissed the three: “All right girls, you can go.”

Then he proceeded to peddle $60 Trump-branded bibles, which the real Trump unveiled Tuesday. They include copies of the nation’s founding documents and lyrics from the Lee Greenwood country song, “God Bless the U.S.A.”

“If you think this is a bad look, imagine how weird it would be if I started selling bibles,” Johnson’s Trump said. “Well, I’m selling bibles.”

He said God is the Beyoncé of the Trinity, presented a fit, muscular image of himself in the Garden of Eden (“My actual body,” he said), and said purchasers will receive a special Trump toaster.

It produces slices with the former president’s face on one side and the Hello Kitty logo on the other, Johnson’s Trump said.

Then he asked his audience to join him in a special, “Easter eve” recitation of the “Lord’s Prayer,” during which he skipped over lines with nonsensical sounds before his conclusion.

“In the name of the father, the son and the Easter Bunny, amen,” Trump said.

Comedian and actor Ramy Youssef hosted “SNL” and performed a monologue that extended the show’s focus on politics, and touched on the Israel-Hamas war.

He said he was in Upstate New York recently for a gig and noticed many Trump campaign posters, banners and yard signs. It made him reluctant, he said, to speak in Arabic in public when his mother called.

“Mother, peace be upon you and the prophet you know,” he said he told her in English. “You know which prophet. The best one. The last one.”

Ramy Youssef on "Saturday Night Live."
Ramy Youssef performs the opening monologue on “SNL” on Saturday.NBC News

He wondered if someone from President Joe Biden’s campaign would call again, as they did in 2020, when he was asked to stump for the president in Michigan, which has a significant Arab American population.

“Tell the Arabs to vote for Joe and you could change the course of American history,” Youssef said the campaign aide told him.

The request, he said, had him fantasizing about going to Michigan and making a real difference.

“Is this up to me?” he said. “Am I the guy?”

In his fantasy, he went to Michigan and campaigned for Biden among Arab Americans, going where they would be easily found, Youssef said. “I’m in every vape shop,” he said.

But Youssef said he decided against it. The comedian said now he would like to see a trans woman campaign for the job.

He circled back to prayers — “That’s all I can do right now.”

He said his friends constantly ask him to pray for them, and he does, except sometimes the prayers are for vastly different goals. He has prayed for freedom for Palestinians, for the hostages taken by Hamas militants in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, for his friend whose family is suffering in Gaza.

Then there’s his friend’s dog, which has suffered in a custody battle after a breakup.

“Please free the people of Palestine, please,” Youssef said, recounting his prayers. “And please free the hostages. All the hostages. Please.”

He continued: “And while you’re at it, you know, free Mr. Bojangles. I mean, he’s a beautiful dog.”

“SNL” airs on NBC, a division of NBCUniversal, which is also the parent company of NBC News.

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