New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani opened the new season of the popular show Saturday Night Live with a serious but important message to America: it’s OK to laugh.
He came onto the familiar set and delivered the opening monologue with several police, fire and rescue workers, including Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen and Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.
“Well, these are the heroes,” Guiliani began, pointing to the workers and generating huge applause.
Guiliani went onto say, “On Sept. 11, more lives were lost than on any single day in America’s history, more than Pearl Harbor, and more than D-Day. The men, women and children who were in the World Trade Center came from across the country and from 80 different nations. They were living their lives and pursuing their dreams and they, too, are remembered as heroes…”
“Our hearts are broken but they are beating, and they are beating stronger than ever.”
“New Yorkers are unified. We will not yield to terrorism. We will not let our decisions be made out of fear. We choose to live out lives in freedom.”
Paul Simon came on to sing his classic song “The Boxer,” and the show’s executive producer, Lorne Michaels, greeted his special guests.
“Saturday Night Live is one of our great New York City institutions,” Guiliani continued. “So that’s why it’s important for you to do your show tonight.”
Michaels then asked the mayor, “Can we be funny?”
“Why start now?” Guiliani joked, and then immediately announced the SNL anthem, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
The rest of the show, with guest host Reese Witherspoon, avoided anything topical and stuck with generic–but funny–humor.