Just What I Needed: Tom Hanks and SNL At Home

In times of such uncertainty, we all have to just approach things one day at a time.

On the whole, I’ve been in pretty good spirits over our coronavirus isolation time, particularly once things with my son’s college got settled down and we got into our “sheltering at home” groove.  

Yesterday was a really good day, sunny and in the 70s.  We started the day at the Farmers Market, buying beautiful, fresh, healthy local food while practicing proper social distances procedures. I got a lot of work done on one of my important projects, and fixed a nice dinner using the ingredients we had picked up that morning. After dinner, my son and I watched the free online version of Jesus Christ Superstar that I wrote about in yesterday’s post. I went to bed thinking about the nice plans we had to celebrate Easter self-quarantine style the next day.

But for whatever reason, I woke up this morning feeling a lot of fear. I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what was generating this fear, but I couldn’t identify anything in particular. I started meditating and doing my spiritual practices, and sure enough, my fear kind of diminished into anxiety. There was still a feeling of worry in my gut I just hadn’t been able to eliminate.

I reached for my phone and checked my emails, but there was nothing particularly noteworthy. Usually I try not to read through the news until mid-day, since most of it is not very uplifting recently and so doesn’t set a good tone for the day. Nonetheless, I checked the Washington Post online, to which I subscribe. I was scrolling through basically the same stories as the day before, when I happened upon this: “Tom Hanks hosts ‘Saturday Night Live at Home‘.”

Instantly, my spirits started to rise. Tom Hanks! To me, he is the perfect antidote to any down feelings! Fortunately, the article included a link to his opening monologue. He started by stating the obvious—that it is hard to be funny about current circumstances. But he managed to do it. He made fun of himself, and he made fun of the show, but in a gentle way. At the end, he looked straight at the camera and said we were going to get through all this together. And if there is anyone I believe when they say something like that, it’s Tom Hanks.

I thought that was a perfect move on SNL’s part. And, sure enough, my fear was gone. So I stayed in bed a little longer, watching some of the other skits from the show. As always, some were better than others. I don’t watch the show regularly (we don’t have TV), but usually watch a few skits after the fact and know the actors. It was reassuring to see them doing their best attempts at “The Show Must Go On.” It actually was interesting seeing their different homes and how they presented their at-home lives (like, some goofed around, while others cuddled their pets or adorable children). They also had a very heartfelt tribute to Hal Willner, a music producer at SNL who had died of coronavirus.

There were two that I enjoyed the most personally. First was Visualization with Aidy Bryant. I won’t give it away, but it was something I could relate to:

My other favorite was the closing part of the Weekend Update news segment. Most of the news jokes were pretty bad–like some I didn’t even understand. But the interactions at the end between Michael Che and Colin Jost made the whole video worthwhile:

Anyway, first after hearing Tom Hanks, but also after watching several of the other skits, my fear was all gone. It was not humor that avoiding acknowledging the dangers and suffering around us right now; on the contrary, the tribute to their deceased colleague brought tears to my eyes. Still, it was what I needed at that moment to lift me out of bad spirits.

Michael Che, who unfortunately just lost his grandmother to COVID-19, mentioned her death and how being able to work again was helping him feel better. It also brought to mind a great line from the Broadway musical A Chorus Line in which one woman sings, “God, I’m a dancer. A dancer dances.” It reminds me that actors need to act, singers need to sing, and comedians need to make people laugh, regardless of pandemics and stay-at-home orders and other situational obstacles.

So while I say thank you to Tom Hanks and the SNL crew for helping me out this morning, I also think they might be saying thanks back to me and all the others who watched and laughed and let them be the artists that they are. As Tom Hanks said, we’ll get through this together.

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