'Saturday Night Live' Comedian Michael Che Remembers His Grandmother Who Died From COVID-19

Saturday Night Live ended its mid-pandemic hiatus last night, with cast members resuming funny business over Zoom to comply with social distancing regulations. During the evening's "Weekend Update" segment, comedian Michael Che set aside some screen time to remember his grandmother, who passed away last weekend after suffering complications from the novel coronavirus. In the spirit of the show, Che's tributary nod gave way to an eventual punchline reminiscent of past onscreen banter between himself and "Weekend Update" co-host Colin Jost.

"As you know, Colin, I lost my grandmother this week. And coming back to work really made me feel better, especially with you," Che told his cast mate, before asking Jost to indulge him in a "Joke Swap," since the duo's recurring comedy bit was his grandmother's "favorite part of the show."

Michael Che, Colin Jost
"Saturday Night Live" comedian Michael Che spoke about his grandmother's passing near the end of his latest "Weekend Update" performance alongside co-host Colin Jost. Bobby Bank/Getty

Fans of SNL are likely familiar with the sketch, which involves an exchange of jokes between the two comedians and often results in Jost reluctantly performing distasteful or offensive one-liners facetiously written by Che, much to his colleague's amusement.

After Jost had complied with his request, Che laughed and admitted: "My grandmother has never seen this show. I just wanted you to do that." He later signed off from "Weekend Update" as "Martha's grandbaby."

Less than one week before SNL aired its first remotely-produced episode—appropriately termed "SNL at Home"—Che informed supporters of his grandmother's passing in a post that has since been deleted from Instagram.

"Hi. I'm Michael Che, from TV. Last night my grandmother passed away from the coronavirus. I'm doing OK, considering. I'm obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone," Che wrote, according reports from several outlets that covered his April 6 social media announcement before its removal. "But I'm also happy that she's not in pain anymore. And I also feel guilty for feeling happy. Basically the whole gamut of complex feelings everybody else has losing someone very close and special."

Prior to his appearance on "SNL at Home" Saturday night, Che shared another message, which also appeared to be deleted, with Instagram followers explaining his initially mixed feelings about returning to work following his grandmother's death.

"i was honestly skeptical about doing it at first, but having something else to think about this week really helped the days go by for me," he said of recording the episode, going on to share his gratitude for those who expressed condolences over the course of the week. "i really appreciate it, even if i didn't answer. sorry for that, it just got a little overwhelming sometimes, and I had to look away from my phone, so I wouldnt dwell."

Saturday's "SNL at Home" also featured a moving musical tribute to Hal Willner, the series' music producer, who also passed away last week from coronavirus complications.