Paul Rudd Joins 'SNL' 's Five-Timers Club with Scaled Back Episode as Omicron Variant Nearly Stops the Show

On Saturday, PEOPLE'S Sexiest Man Alive closed out Saturday Night Live's year by marking his fifth time hosting the hit NBC sketch comedy show with special guests Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, and more

Paul Rudd SNL
Photo: Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Paul Rudd is officially the newest member of Saturday Night Live's Five-Timers Club!

On Saturday, PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive marked his fifth time hosting the hit NBC sketch comedy show — despite the Omicron COVID-19 variant preventing much of the live aspect of the broadcast from taking place.

Just hours before Rudd, 52, was set to take the stage, NBC announced the episode would be scaled back with a limited number of cast and crew, and no audience. SNL also cancelled musical guest Charli XCX's planned performances, including "New Shapes" with Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek.

In place of a regular episode with live sketches, Saturday's installment featured holiday highlights from seasons past, as well as a few pre-recorded digital shorts with the Ghostbusters: Afterlife star and the cast.

During his monologue, Rudd performed to an empty room alongside fellow Five-Timers Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, and Steve Martin on-video, as well as repertory player Kenan Thompson and definitely not Martin Short.

"Congratulations on hosting the show four-and-a-half times," Thompson joked, acknowledging the unusual circumstances of the day. Rudd still got his smoking jacket, at least.

Fey also joined Michael Che for a special Christmas Weekend Update in place of Colin Jost.

SNL announced the change of plans via Twitter Saturday afternoon. "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," the statement read.

"The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol," the statement noted. Individuals who won tickets for Saturday's episode will receive additional information. "Thank you for your patience and understanding," SNL added.

Prior to Saturday's milestone appearance, Rudd hosted in 2008, 2010, 2013, and 2019.

He shares the highly coveted distinction with his The Shrink Next Door costar and SNL alum Will Ferrell, as well as fellow actors Jonah Hill, Dwayne Johnson, and Melissa McCarthy, to name a few.

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. EST on NBC.

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