‘SNL’ swings and misses with cold open attempting to skewer antisemitism hearings hours after UPenn President Liz Magill resigns

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



Viewers blasted “Saturday Night Live’s” cold opener after the show mocked this week’s congressional hearings on antisemitism on college campuses — hours after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned amid a flurry of backlash over her testimony.

The opening sketch, set up as a C-SPAN broadcast, tried to poke fun at the presidents of Harvard, UPenn and MIT — portrayed by Ego Nwodim, Heidi Gardner and Chloe Fineman, respectively — as they testified before the House Education Committee.

There were few laughs to be heard from the audience. 

Viewers took to social media to slam the sketch, which some saw as undermining the seriousness of incidents of antisemitism on college campuses in recent weeks since Israel’s war with Hamas began on Oct. 7.

Others thought it was just flat-out bad.

Chloe Troast (L) portrayed Rep. Elise Stefanik in the cold opener that poked fun at the recent congressional hearings on antisemitism on college campuses. SNL/NBC

Newcomer Chloe Troast played Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), an outspoken Donald Trump supporter, and targeted her line of questioning during the hearing as the butt of the sketch.

“I’m going to start yelling questions at these women like Billy Eichner,” she says.

“Antisemitism — yay or nay?” she screams at the three women. “Yes or no! Is calling for the genocide of Jews against the code of conduct for Harvard?” 

“Well, it depends on the context,” answers Nwodim’s Dr. Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard.

Ego Nwodim played the president of Harvard, Dr. Claudine Gay. SNL/NBC

“What? That can’t be your answer,” Troast’s Stefanik shoots back.

“UPenn lady, same question, yes or no?” she asks Gardner’s Magill.

“Well, we are serious about stopping all forms of hatred, anti-semitism, Islamophobia,” she answers. Stefanik then poses the same question to Fineman’s Dr. Sally Kornbluth, president of MIT.

“If you don’t say yes, you’re going to make me look good, which is really, really hard to do,” Troast’s Stefanik says. “So I will ask you straight up. Do you think genocide is bad?”

Fineman’s Kornbluth responds: “Could I submit an answer in writing at a later date?”

Chloe Fineman took on the role of president of MIT, Dr. Sally Kornbluth. SNL/NBC

“Am I winning this hearing?” an incredulous Stefanik says. “Somebody pinch me!”

The three presidents breathe a sigh of relief when Stefanik learns her time is up, but another member of the committee yields their time back to her, giving her another chance to speak.

“I am here today because hate speech has no place on college campuses. Hate speech belongs in Congress, on Elon Musk’s Twitter, at private dinners with my donors and in public speeches by my work husband, Donald Trump,” Troast’s Stefanik says.

The sketch also ridiculed the vague, evasive answers from the academic leaders.

Heidi Gardner portrayed University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill. SNL/NBC

“Only a hate-filled, anti-Semitic SNL could do a sketch about the anti-Semitic college presidents testifying in front of Congress and make the questioner Congresswoman Stefanik the target of the sketch,” radio host Mark Simone tweeted.

“Rather remarkable how few laughs there were in #SNL’s Cold Open. They – oddly – tried to skewer Elise Stefanik (who by all accounts won the day) as shrill. I guess I was under the misapprehension that calling a woman “shrill” was sexist,” one X user posted.

“The worst cold open on SNL I’ve ever seen the audience was barely laughing,” another wrote.

Kenan Thompson appeared as the president of the online University of Phoenix. SNL/NBC

“Gotta be the worst cold open I’ve ever seen on SNL absolutely abysmal,” another said.

Another user remarked: “SNL is taking a big swing in the cold open and it looks like it’s going to be a miss…” 

While largely falling flat, the sketch was somewhat saved by an appearance from show veteran Kenan Thompson, who played the president of the online University of Phoenix.

“Can you take a moral stance on anything? Can anyone here say yes to a single question?” Troast’s Stefanik shouts.

Following the cold opening, people online went after the decades-long sketch show about poking fun at antisemitism on college campuses. SNL/NBC

“I am willing to say yes to anything,” Thompson says.

“See, see, finally. A real president of a real university,” Stefanik answers.

“That’s actually our school motto: U of P: We are a real university,” he answers.

Her Stefanik asks if he would promise to eliminate antisemitism from the school’s campus.

“My campus is the internet. Antisemitism is kind of our most popular major, and our mascot is porn,” Thompson quipped.

The show’s creator and longtime producer Lorne Michaels, 79, was born to a Jewish family on a kibbutz in then-British mandate Palestine before his family moved to Toronto.

The real Stefanik, meanwhile, gave a scorching response when news of Magill’s resignation broke.

“One down. Two to go,” the congresswoman posted on X.





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