There are few things more difficult than trying to be funny when the world isn't in the mood to laugh. But when you're a live comedy sketch show with an infamously rushed schedule to follow, you cannot let the tragic events of the real world derail the production. The show must go on. SNL could have easily not mentioned the terrorist attacks that rocked Paris the day before the most recent episode. No one would have batted an eye. Instead, the show dedicated its cold opening to the City of Light, promising that New York City stands with the Parisian people.

Rather than open with a comedy sketch of any kind, last night’s episode opened with Cecily Strong alone on stage, speaking directly to the camera:

Paris is the City of Light and here in New York City, we know that light will never go out. Our love and support is with everyone there tonight. We stand with you.

Then Strong repeated the message in French.

New York City is, of course, no stranger to tragic events with a global impact and this isn't the first time SNL has soberly addressed real world tragedy on air. In the weeks after the events of September 11, 2001, the show handled the horror across the city with dignity and grace. By acknowledging the events of 9/11, the show was able to pay tribute to those who suffered and then try to do its part in the healing process. Laughter is the best medicine and sometimes all we can hope to do is laugh in the face of darkness.

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