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Woody Harrelson’s Entire SNL Monologue Builds to an Anti-Vax Conspiracy

I haven't watched something THIS uncomfortable in a LONG time.

Woody Harrelson giving a monologue on SNL

Just a few weeks ago, Pedro Pascal graced our screens to deliver one of the best SNLs in recent memory. This particular week was supposed to be Woody Harrelson’s induction into the famous Five-Timers Club, joining the elite-of-the-elite echelon of entertainers who have appeared on SNL five or more times. While Scarlet Johansson did eventually give Harrelson his jacket, the absence of fanfare was a returning half-joke in Harrelson’s monologue. When the entire monologue built up to an anti-vax conspiracy, you start to wonder if there was a reason for the lack of fanfare.

Harrelson started out by making a joke that the “red” in him “thinks everyone should be allowed to own guns,” while the “blue” thinks “they should be a squirt gun.” Haha? Harrelson concluded this portion by saying he is “purple,” clearly expecting applause from the in-studio audience that he did not receive. Unfortunately, Harrelson’s monologue only got more awkward from there.

What happened during the monologue?

After his intro, Harrelson introduced the premise of sitting down to read a script in Central Park on the day after he last hosted SNL—Thanksgiving 2019. But he constantly interrupted himself, meandering into talking about pot-smoking and drinking habits. Finally, at the end, he focused in on the “crazy script” he had been teasing for the whole monologue. “The movie goes like this,” Harrelson said. “All the biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes, and people can only come out if they take the cartels’ drugs and keep taking them over and over.”

Silence from the audience. “I threw the script away!” One uncomfortable chuckle. “I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day long!” Small wave of half-hearted laughter.


Harrelson never says the word “COVID,” but it’s obvious that he’s giving air-time to an anti-vax conspiracy theory. Forbes points out, by the way, that many states started lifting quarantine restrictions before the vaccine was available to the general public.

Does Harrelson have a history with conspiracy theories?

Harrelson does have a history with embracing COVID conspiracies. And conspiracy theories in general, because Rolling Stone points out that he’s a 9/11 truther. As reported by Forbes, Harrelson posted a conspiracy article during the early pandemic “linked” COVID to 5G networks. Harrelson commented on his post, “[I haven’t] fully vetted it [but] I find it very interesting.” In a May 2022 interview with Vanity Fair, Harrelson said he found mask-wearing “absurd” because he “doesn’t believe in the germ theory.” The germ … theory?

Of course, as Forbes corrects him: “COVID-19 is spread through airborne transmission of droplets, and masks prevent the ’emission of virus-laden droplets’ and ‘help reduce inhalation of these droplets’ by the wearer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Masks are still a good idea.

One of the people who did enjoy Harrelson’s monologue was Elon Musk, who responded to NBC’s tweet of the monologue with, simply, “good one.” Because of course he did.

The monologue was disappointing to witness. It’s not like conspiracy theories need extra air-time. You’d hope that maybe the SNL producers would take some care to make sure that guests didn’t use the show’s giant megaphone to fan flames that are already setting the proverbial forest on fire.

Harrelson only got his Five-Timers jacket after Kenan Thompson gave one to Jack White, the musical guest. Compared to the huge fanfare made around John Mulaney’s entry into the club (via the sketch above), Harrelson’s “jacket ceremony” felt like a reluctant after-thought. You wonder why.

(Image credit: NBC)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.