"SNL" open has something for everyone: Trump riffs, weed jokes and anti-vax sentiments

Host Woody Harrelson made comments during his monologue that left viewers wondering if he's anti-vax

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published February 26, 2023 10:45AM (EST)

"SNL" musical guest Jack White, host Woody Harrelson and Chloe Fineman. (Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)
"SNL" musical guest Jack White, host Woody Harrelson and Chloe Fineman. (Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

"Saturday Night Live" offered a grab bag of talking points during the show's intro last night, riffing on Trump's visit to East Palestine, Ohio, smoking weed, and what could very well be viewed as anti-vax statements made by host Woody Harrelson. 

In the cold-open for the episode, James Austin Johnson takes center stage in a well-written sketch poking fun at Trump visiting the site of the toxic derailment in Ohio on Wednesday to hand out bottles of "Trump Water." 

In the sketch, Johnson as Trump greets a gathering of Ohio residents saying "I had to come here and see these wonderful people who have been abandoned by Biden," going on to joke about the president being on "spring break in Ukraine."

"Earlier today, a farmer came up to me, big fella, and he said 'Sir, we have nothing to eat because our dirt is poison.' And I said, well what are you doing eating the dirt? Don't eat the dirt folks," Johnson joked, getting big laughs from the studio audience.

Later into the short sketch, another big laugh came from "Trump" nicknaming Pete Buttigieg "Pete Butt."

"Pete Buttigieg, this was his responsibility, unfortunately," Johnson says in reference to the train derailment that has left Ohio with unsafe drinking water. "He was too busy being a nerd and being gay . . . and I have to tell you, I call him Pete Butt. I call him Pete Butt. There's no way around it, that's just the best one."

After the Trump sketch, Woody Harrelson came out for his opening monologue, joking about how it's his fifth time hosting but no one had run out to give him his "five-timers" jacket yet. 

Spending a good portion of his monologue making sure that everyone knows he loves weed, Harrelson shoehorned in a bit about being high in Central Park and reading a movie script about people being forced to take drugs and stay in their homes, a reference to the COVID-19 vaccine.

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"So the movie goes like this," Harrelson says. "The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes. And people can only come out if they take the cartel's drugs and keep taking them over and over . . . I threw the script away. I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day."

Watch below:

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

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Anti-vax Covid-19 Saturday Night Live Snl Trump Woody Harrelson