The 52-year-old actor and sexiest man alive was set to host the highly anticipated season finale of the NBC comedy show. However, hours before showtime, SNL announced that there would be no live audience and minimal staff in attendance out of an "abundance of caution" due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in New York City.
As a result, the show featured Rudd introducing multiple sketches that were pre-recorded throughout the week and included a few of past holiday favorites too. It also featured no performance from its musical guest Charli XCX.
But that doesn't mean Rudd was left on his own. The Ant-Man actor received back up from two very special guests: Tina Fey and Tom Hanks. In the show's cold open, they inducted him into the '5-Timers Club,' an elite group of performers who have each hosted the show at least five times, with Kenan Thompson giving him a velveteen jacket.
"Tonight, everyone at Saturday Night Live planned to do our big Christmas show and induct a new member into the 5-Timers club, but COVID came early this year," Hanks revealed. "So, in the interest of safety, we do not have an audience, and we sent home our cast and most of our crew."
He then introduced Fey, who added that this wasn't the smallest crowd she'd ever performed to because she'd once "done improv in a Macy's."
When Hanks added that he was the one who started the 5-Timers Club on the show, Fey cheekily replied, "Oh, like you started COVID!"
The duo then welcomed Rudd onto the stage. Although he appeared happy, the actor stated that he was "extremely disappointed" by the turn of events, adding that there was "a whole show planned" that ultimately didn't come to fruition.
In an attempt to make his spirits bright, Hanks showed Rudd the "very special message" that Steve Martin had sent to congratulate him on his new title. However, the hilariously poorly dubbed video appeared to congratulate Hanks instead of Rudd. It also featured an appearance by Martin Short, who revealed he had only hosted the show three times before Martin shoved him off camera.
Outside of the show opening, Fey also reprised her role on Weekend Update, filling in for Colin Jost who was not present and cracking jokes about current events opposite current anchor Michael Che.
Although she did not perform on the night, Charli XCX did make an appearance in one of the show's pre-recorded sketches as a macaw named T.J. Rocks.
The segment was a parody of the 2000 single "The Christmas Shoes" by Christian group NewSong and featured Rudd and Kyle Mooney singing about a young boy attempting to purchase socks for his mom for Christmas after a hard year and the loss of their bird, who they later discover has joined a rock band.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family).