Saturday Night Live

We're roughly two months into a collective crisis that's kept us sheltered in place, cut off from friends and fearful for the future of our health, our families and our economic well-being. Our emotions frequently form a thick slurry of anxiety, worry, boredom, rage and desperate desire for threads of normalcy; for moments of mundanity; for the calming comfort of the familiar.

The creatively voracious music producer Hal Willner, who for decades selected the music used in "Saturday Night Live" sketches, died Tuesday, one day after his 64th birthday. He had symptoms consistent with those caused by COVID-19.

Along with his work at "SNL" — where he began in 1980 — Willner was a multifaceted presence in the music community, earning fans and drawing critical praise for his work as a live event and record producer.

Shane Gillis, the comedian who has been under fire over the past few days for using racist and homophobic slurs on his podcast, has been fired from Saturday Night Live.

Gillis was one of three cast members recently added to the show, which is set to begin its 45th season. But the comedian was canned on Monday before ever making an appearance on the show.

"After talking with Shane Gillis, we have decided that he will not be joining SNL," a spokesperson said in a statement on behalf of producer Lorne Michaels.

After working for five years as a writer and producer on Saturday Night Live, comic John Mulaney thought he knew everything there was to know about the show.

"I was like a busboy," Mulaney says of his SNL tenure. "I was like, 'I know all the secrets, and I know all the ins and outs, and I know how to sneak out of the kitchen and I know where we get the meat delivered from.' "

Aidy Bryant mourns the time she lost in her teens and early 20s feeling self-conscious about her body. The Emmy-nominated comic and actor says she lived in fear of judgments about her weight.

"I felt like the worst possible thing that anyone could ever do would be to think that I was fat, to call me fat," she says.

Bryant began to direct her energy into her writing and comedy career. She moved to Chicago to pursue comedy at Second City, and in 2012, became a cast member on Saturday Night Live.

Saturday Night Live packed in a couple of special appearances from unexpected guests, including Robert De Niro and Rep.-elect Dan Crenshaw.

Here's brief roundup of the show's political bits this week:

The show opened by bidding adieu to Jeff Sessions with Kate McKinnon reprising her role as the recently ousted attorney general.

"I don't understand what I did wrong, you know," Sessions tells Vice President Pence (Beck Bennett) as he packs up his office supplies. "I put kids in cages. I said no to gays. What more did y'all want?"

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET Sunday

Saturday Night Live kicked off its 44th season in a sketch many of us expected in some form or another: a send-up of the emotionally charged hearings into the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The show skipped any impression of accuser Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, starting the scene just before Kavanaugh's entrance.

Saturday Night Live had a star-studded cold open Saturday starting with Ben Stiller returning as a flailing Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer, and ending with an appearance of the real Stormy Daniels, the porn actress who says she had an affair with Trump.

Pages