This Week’s “SNL” Revisited a 30-Year-Old Sketch to Make a Point About Climate Change

An alarming reminder of how little has changed

1991 "SNL" sketch
Last night, "SNL" revisited a 1991 sketch about climate change.

Last night’s Saturday Night Live was an especially odd episode, featuring a blend of pre-taped sketches and some highlights from the show’s archives. It wasn’t what the show’s producers had planned, but concerns over the Omicron variant led to a last-minute change.

It also made for one of the night’s most inspired decisions — revisiting a 30-year-old sketch and illustrating that some satire holds up quite well over the years. In this case, though, the reasons for that are more than a little terrifying. The introduction to the sketch found Hanks looking back on the bygone days when global warming was a threat.

“Back in the day, we thought this was a huge deal — but then it magically disappeared!” Hanks said — and then paused, reminded by an offscreen voice that, no, this was indeed still a huge problem. Hanks then cited the sketch as a favorite of his, and pointed out that it had aired in 1991. You know, 30 years ago.

The premise of the sketch was simple — a global warming-themed Christmas special hosted by Carl Sagan (Mike Myers) and Dean Martin (Hanks). Most of the jokes followed a predictable arc, with Sagan viscerally alarmed over the consequences of global warming and Martin wondering when the fun parts are slated to happen.

The jokes are, to be honest, hit or miss — though, not surprisingly, both Myers and Hanks are quite good. But the fact that nearly all of the concerns raised over the course of the sketch are still eminently relevant today — again, 30 years after it first aired — is deeply sobering. Elements of the sketch may not have held up well over the years, but it still felt like an inspired choice.

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