As impassioned reactions to the results of Tuesday’s presidential election continued throughout the week, many Saturday Night Live fans began to wonder how the political comedy stalwart would address the outcome, in which Republican nominee Donald Trump defeated his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, despite Clinton winning the popular vote. As it turns out, the sketch show found its answer in another emotional headline from the week: the death of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.
The news of the Canadian music icon’s death at 82 broke on Thursday, and provided a fitting accompaniment to SNL’s first sketch on Saturday. The show opened simply on Kate McKinnon, in character as Clinton, sitting at a piano in one of the former First Lady’s signature pantsuits, singing “Hallelujah,” Cohen’s most famous song.
SNL has a history of opening shows with heartfelt musical numbers in the wake of more serious, world-changing events. Paul Simon performed “The Boxer” before then-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani helped Lorne Michaels kick off the first post-9/11 episode, and in December 2012, the show opened with a children’s choir singing “Silent Night” after the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Saturday’s simple, heartfelt opening, however, felt more like a celebration of both Clinton and Cohen, as well as a tribute to McKinnon’s Emmy-worthy portrayal of the former Secretary of State throughout the grueling election process.
“I’m not giving up, and neither should you,” McKinnon-as-Clinton then told the camera with tears in her eyes, before opening the show with SNL’s signature line, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
The episode’s host, Dave Chappelle, also wasted no time addressing the election in his opening monologue, saying that he “didn’t know” Trump was going to win the election, but admitting that he “did suspect it.”
“Seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls and yet — I know the whites,” Chappelle quipped. “You guys aren’t as full of surprises as you used to be…. America’s done it. We’ve actually elected an internet troll as our president.”
The legendary stand-up comedian also opened up about watching protests unfold in cities across the country following the election and the prospects of a Trump presidency, but ended his monologue with a hopeful message, recalling attending a BET-sponsored party at the White House recently, where “everybody in there was black. Except for Bradley Cooper, for some reason.”
“I saw how happy everybody was, these people who had been historically disenfranchised,” Chappelle remembered. “It made me feel hopeful and it made me feel proud to be an American and it made me very happy about the prospects of our country. So, in that spirit, I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance. And we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too.”
For more celeb reactions to the election, check out the video below.