Saturday Night Live opted to forgo its standard comedy-sketch cold open and instead began Saturday’s show with an emotional performance from New York’s Ukrainian Chorus Dumka.
The chorus performed “Prayer for Ukraine” for the studio’s live audience after being introduced by SNL cast members Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong. Following the song, the camera panned to a table bearing “Kyiv” spelled out with candles.
SNL, NBC’s sketch-comedy show currently in its 47th season, rarely breaks the tradition of opening with a topical skit. Saturday’s somber performance in support of Ukraine is reminiscent of SNL’s cold open following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Airing two weeks after the terrorist attacks, the first episode of SNL’s 27th season featured then-Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani and a contingent of New York City first responders. The episode began with a few short words from Giuliani, followed by Paul Simon performing “The Boxer.”
“Prayer for Ukraine” created a similarly moving atmosphere of international solidarity in the face of an unprovoked act of war. Now entering the fourth day of fighting, Russian forces continue to struggle for control of Ukraine.
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