Saturday Night Live's cold open included a shocking cameo from Nikki Haley last night. The GOP candidate for president showed up to roast Donald Trump and deliver the iconic "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" line.
After taking a week off from political cold opens, SNL returned to its bread and butter on February 3. What started as a typical Donald Trump parody took a turn when the real Nikki Haley stood up to ask Trump (James Austin Johnson) some tough questions.
Haley's appearance came with about two minutes left in the cold open. She didn't exactly get thunderous applause or the kind of warm reception typical for an SNL cameo.
However, the former South Carolina governor managed to get a few viewers on her side by delivering some shots to Donald Trump. Haley challenged Trump's mental fitness and age, mirroring her own campaign strategy as she trails the former president.
Saturday Night Live didn't give Haley free airtime without holding her feet to the fire, to a degree. The cold open ended with host Ayo Edebiri asking Haley what caused the Civil War. It was a callback to Haley's disastrous campaign event in which she failed to acknowledge slavery as the primary cause.
SNL gave Haley the opportunity to put her hand up and admit she messed up. From there, it was "Live from New York..." and the show rolled on.
Nikki Haley was missing from the SNL goodnights
When it came time for Ayo Edebiri, Jennifer Lopez, and the Saturday Night Live cast to say goodbye, Nikki Haley was nowhere to be seen. It was an unusual absence for someone making a cameo during the episode.
It's possible that Haley needed to get out as soon as possible to prepare for whatever campaign events she had lined up next. But given that it was late on a Saturday night, it seems a bit odd that she didn't stick around.
It may be that Haley wanted to prevent a cold reception from the crowd or the cast. According to one Reddit user, Haley did do the goodnights during the dress rehearsal in front of a live audience. The cast reportedly avoided her and stood farther back from the front of the stage.
Watching the episode, the cast does appear to be standing back from Edebiri and Lopez. Perhaps they anticipated Haley coming out for the goodnights.
Regardless, it was an unusual finish, but a fitting one for an episode with a cameo sure to divide Saturday Night Live audiences.