'SNL' Opens with Tribute to Ukraine as Host John Mulaney Enters Five-Timers Club

John Mulaney was joined by musical guest LCD Soundsystem for his fifth Saturday Night Live hosting gig

Saturday Night Live returned from its hiatus with a tribute to Ukraine amid Russia's military assault on the country.

Instead of a cold open sketch, cast members Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong introduced the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York, who sang "Prayer for Ukraine" in front of the live audience in Studio 8H.

The choir performed in front of a table full of candles that spelled out "Kyiv," the Ukrainian capital. McKinnon and Strong, both 38, then returned to the stage and said the show's signature catchphrase: "Live from New York, it's Saturday night."

Russia began an invasion of Ukraine earlier this week, according to the Ukraine government, with forces moving from the north, east and south. The attack is still-evolving but explosions and airstrikes have been reported, with threats mounting against Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million people.

John Mulaney on SNL. Will Heath/NBC

In his subsequent monologue, John Mulaney, who officially earned his place in SNL's elite five-timers club, addressed his past drug use and stint in rehab, as he marked his fifth time taking on the hosting duties.

"For many, many reasons, I'm grateful to be here tonight after a very complicated year. It is wonderful to be in a place that's always emphasized sobriety and mental health," the comedian, 39, quipped.

"Since I last hosted, different things have happened," Mulaney continued. "In December of 2020, I went to dinner at a friend's apartment, but it was not dinner. It was an intervention. For me — my least favorite kind of intervention."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

He added, "When I walked into my intervention, I knew right away that it was an intervention. Do you know how bad of a drug problem you have to have, if when you open a door and see people gathered, your first thought is, 'This is probably an intervention about my drug problem?'"

Mulaney also mentioned his son, Malcolm Hiệp, whom he welcomed with Olivia Munn in November.

"Life is a lot better and happier now," he said. "I have a 12-week-old son. ... He is a pretty cool guy for someone who can't vote. His legs are like little calzones, and I want to eat him."

He also recalled the moment he first "bonded" with his baby boy, explaining, "We were in the delivery room. My girlfriend had just given birth to him and he's crying a little, so they bring him over to this warmer on the other side of the delivery room, and they put them on the warmer under this big bright light and light is just shining in his eyes."

Mulaney continued, "He just looks up at the light and ... he was annoyed. But he didn't say anything. I was like, 'That's my son.' A polite man in an uncomfortable situation, but he's not going to make a fuss."

john mulaney
john mulaney/instagram

The comedian was joined by musical guest LCD Soundsystem for the episode.

Mulaney, who is a former SNL writer, previously hosted on April 14, 2018; March 2, 2019; Feb. 29, 2020; and Oct. 31, 2020. With his fifth appearance as host, he joins other SNL five-timers, including Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Scarlett Johansson and Paul Rudd.

To celebrate his fifth appearance, Mulaney shared a tweet from the SNL Twitter account announcing his gig. He captioned the image, "And just like that…"

Following Mulaney's turn as host, Oscar Isaac will host SNL on March 5, followed by Zoë Kravitz on March 12.

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

Related Articles