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Kate McKinnon Runs Into ‘Old Friends’ Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph During ‘SNL’ Hosting Debut

Kate McKinnon came back to Saturday Night Live to host for the first time since her exit as a cast member — and she wasn’t the only one to return to Studio 8H.

“The best part of coming back here is definitely running into old friends,” McKinnon, 39, said in the middle of her opening monologue on Saturday, December 16. “Maya [Rudolph and] Kristen [Wiig]! Wow, what are you doing here?”

Former cast members Rudolph, 51, and Wiig, 50, dressed in matching sparkly dresses, quipped that they “were just walking by” the set during the broadcast.

“It’s so good to see you and it’s so great to be back. [We have] so many memories,” Wiig chimed in. “You know, I looked myself up on Wikipedia the other day, as I do every day, and it said I was in over 38,000 sketches here.”

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McKinnon quickly pointed out that Wikipedia “isn’t the most reliable” for certain facts, but Wiig asserted that it was correct since her entry noted that she has 12 Grammy wins and is dating NFL star Travis Kelce. (Wiig was seemingly referencing Taylor Swift, whom she previously spoofed on SNL. Kelce, 34, has been dating Swift, also 34, since this summer, several months before they made cameos on the SNL season 49 premiere in October.)

Kate McKinnon Runs Into ‘Old Friends’ Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph During ‘SNL’ Hosting Debut
Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon and Kristen Wiig on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ NBC

Later in the episode, McKinnon enlisted Wiig and Rudolph for several musical sketches. The trio (and current cast member Bowen Yang) portrayed the members of ABBA and sang rejected holiday songs. In a second skit, McKinnon, Wiig and Rudolph crooned about working on a tampon farm alongside actress Paula Pell.

McKinnon joined the SNL cast in 2012 and went on to be nominated for 10 Emmy Awards for the show, winning Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2016 and 2017. She departed in May 2022 at the conclusion of season 47. Several other longtime cast members — including Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd and Melissa Villaseñorleft the series at the same time, leading to a creative reset.

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In her farewell sketch, McKinnon portrayed one of her recurring characters, alien abductee Colleen Rafferty, as she said goodbye to the show. “Well, Earth, I love you, thanks for letting me stay awhile,” she said in the cold open. “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

McKinnon later got candid about why she decided to leave SNL. “I thought about it for a very long time and it was very, very hard,” she explained on Live With Kelly and Ryan in July 2022. “All I ever wanted to do in my whole life was be on Saturday Night Live. And so, I did, I loved it, I had the best decade and then I was just, like, my body was tired, and I felt like it was time.”

While the Barbie star wasn’t sure at the time if she’d keep watching SNL, she was eager to return as host on Saturday. It was her first time emceeing the variety show.

Saturday’s episode also featured musical performances by Billie Eilish. The 21-year-old singer even performed “What I Was Made For?” from the Barbie soundtrack after an introduction by McKinnon (who played Weird Barbie) and director Greta Gerwig.

Saturday Night Live airs on NBC Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET.

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