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As college campus protests ignite across the U.S. over the Israel-Palestine conflict, “SNL” weighed in with its cold open this week as Kenan Thompson played an incredulous parent of a Columbia University student.

Michael Longfellow acted as a reporter for Spectrum News New York 1 on “Community Affairs,” shining light on the ongoing protests throughout the country and their impact. Mikey Day, Heidi Gardner and Thompson were seated as parents weighing in on the state of the nation on college campuses. Longfellow’s character says, “College students have been protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza on campus across the nation. Tonight, we’ll be discussing with my guests who are parents of college students here.

Day played a New School parent, Gardner played a Hunter College mom and Thompson played a Columbia University dad. Longfellow launched into his questions, asking the parents how they felt about the protests on campus. “For me,” said Gardner’s character, “it’s been tough. I’m all for free speech, but I don’t understand what they think they’re accomplishing, and that’s really putting a strain on me and my daughter’s relationship.”

Day’s character echoes the sentiments, saying, “I want to let my son make his own choices, but to be honest, it’s a little scary; these protests are becoming way more aggressive.” (Over 2,000 people have been arrested at college campus protests, AP reports.) Gardner’s character gives voice to the idea that the students are adults that get to live their own lives.

Thompson, dressed in a Columbia sweatshirt with a blue lion and rimmed glasses, says, “Well I think it’s just great; it’s wonderful. Nothing makes me prouder than young people using their voices for fighting what they believe in.” Longfellow’s reporter said, “Your daughter must feel so supported when she’s out there.”

Thompson replied with his trademark inflection, “What’s that now? No, man…you buggin!’” He added, “Let me find out that she in one of the damn tents, instead of the dorm room that I paid for” and how he was supportive of “y’all’s kids protesting,” but that when it came to his daughter, he wasn’t. The sketch noted the increased police presence on campus and the subsequent arrests. He says of the Columbia students that took over Hamilton Hall, “That’s good for y’all’s kids, but they ain’t mine!”

Thompson adds, “Man, I worried about 5-0! She ain’t talking about no free this, free that, because I’ll tell you what ain’t free: Columbia!” He cited the university’s high tuition cost of $68,000 per year. Day’s character talked about all the sacrifices parents make to pay tuition. Thompson said, “I’m out here busting my hump to pay,” then mentioned his countless side hustles, including driving for Uber and bounty hunting. “Sister girl, I do it all!” he said, listing his jobs.

Riffing on his daughter’s African Studies degree, he said, “Look girl, you’ve been Black your whole life. You know what it is.” When Thompson’s charcter learns of the canceled graduations, he’s incredulous. “I heard a few schools are canceling graduation,” says Gardner’s character.

“Sister girl, I don’t think you you get it. [My daughter] will be graduating, even if I gotta do it myself!” he said. He again cited the high cost of tuition and how his daughter was being taught over Zoom during the pandemic. “Believe me when I tell you that at the end of this month, I’m putting on my church clothes, three pumps of cologne, and then BAM, I’m hopping in my Ford Explorer blasting some Anita Baker, and you better believe I’m gonna be in there hootin and hollerin’, after they explicitly told us to wait to the end.”

The sketch concluded with Thompson shouting those famed seven words, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

Singer Dua Lipa, whose latest album “Radical Optimism” arrived Friday, is serving as musical guest and host for the episode.



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