Saturday Night Live

‘SNL' Drops Live Audience and Musical Guest Charli XCX Due to COVID Spike

Paul Rudd is set to join the show's "Five-Timers Club" when he hosts the holiday episode

NBC Universal, Inc.

The final "Saturday Night Live" episode of the year will look trimmed down as the live comedy sketch show responds to a spike in COVID cases.

Musical guest Charli XCX will no longer perform after the show shifted to a smaller cast and crew "out of an abundance of caution."

"it can't happen this time but I'll be back," the singer tweeted. "i am currently safe and healthy but of course very sad. please look after yourselves out there and make sure you get vaccinated if you haven't already."

Hours before the show was set to tape its Christmas episode with soon-to-be five-time host Paul Rudd, it was announced the show would tape without a live studio audience.

The last-minute changes are due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases surging in New York City. The popular live sketch show films in Studio 8H at 30 Rock.

"Due to the recent spike in the Omicron variant and out of an abundance of caution, there will be no live audience for tonight’s taping of 'Saturday Night Live' and the show will have limited cast and crew," the "SNL" account tweeted Saturday.

"The show continues to follow all government safety guidelines in addition to a rigorous testing protocol," the show's Twitter followed up.

"Saturday Night Live" airs on NBC at 11:30 p.m. ET coast-to-coast.

It's not the first time the live comedy show has battered COVID complications. Just last month, singer Ed Sheeran tested positive in the lead up to the episode where he was the scheduled musical guest, forcing the artist to perform from home.

And last year, following the city's initial lockdown in the spring of 2020, "SNL" came back from a brief hiatus with a string of episodes filmed entirely from home. Cast members learned how to operate film equipment and green screens to produce several episode before returning to Studio 8H.

A surge in COVID-19 cases has stalled other live performances across New York City during the past week, including the abrupt end to the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular held across the street from 30 Rock at Radio City Music Hall. Positive cases have also canceled numerous shows on Broadway.

On Saturday, New York's governor reported nearly 22,000 new cases of COVID-19, breaking the state's single-day case record set one day prior. Roughly half of the confirmed cases came from New York City.

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