WASHINGTON — A week after Ted Cruz accused Big Bird of peddling “government propaganda” by promoting COVID-19 vaccines, Saturday Night Live devoted its cold opening to a disturbing alternative hosted by the Texas senator himself.
in contrast to Sesame Street, on “Cruz Street” children are encouraged to play with machine guns, and Q – not the letter, but the shadowy leader of a conspiracy cult – is a sponsor.
“As you know, I was mocked for attacking Big Bird on Twitter simply because I’m a human senator and he’s a fictional six-foot bird. But let’s see what happened to Big Bird after he got the vaccine got,” says Cruz, played by Aidy Bryant.
The senator’s nemesis, Muppet, comes out, peeling and complaining about side effects: “My feathers fell out. My nuts got huge and my doink isn’t working. He’s a really bad man.”
‘Do not worry. I read online that you can take a bath for borax and that will purify you any nanotechnology,” Cruz responds, offering advice reminiscent of then-President Donald Trump’s alarming suggestion about injecting bleach to kill the coronavirus.
Big Bird is 8 feet, 2 inches. The SNL version on “Newsmax Kids” — a dig at the conservative pro-Trump network — was about the same 5-foot-7 as Kyle Mooney, the not-ready-for-prime-time player in the costume.
“Maybe the vaccine gave me COVID,” Mooney says.
“Yes, yes, that sounds correct,” responds SNL Cruz.
The real Cruz hasn’t commented publicly on the sketchy.
He is adamantly opposed to government masks or vaccine mandates. But Big Bird and others Sesame Street characters did not promote mandates. They have sought to allay children’s fears of having a chance and encouraged voluntary adherence to recommendations from the country’s top public health authorities.
The Muppets joined a CNN town hall last Saturday to promote vaccination, and Big Bird tweeted that he’d been given the chance. Hours later, Cruz accused him of spreading government propaganda.
Muppets fans and opponents of Cruz – groups that do overlap to some extent – pointed out that Sesame Street and PBS receive very little government funding.
The exchange inspired days of online carp and then last night’s 6-minute skit on NBC’s SNL.
“You know, I stood for 50 years when Sesame Street taught our kids dangerous ideas like numbers and kindness. But when Big Bird told kids to get vaccinated against a deadly disease, I said enough,” Faux Cruz says. “It’s a gated community where children are safe from the awakened government.”
Cruz Street’s first guest was Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgian Republican and conspiracy theorist. She comes by with an AR-15, which she offers to one of the kids nearby. When he refuses, she calls him a “pussy.”
Joe Rogan, the conservative anti-vaxxer, offers Big Bird zinc and horse medicine.
“Why would a bird take equine medicine?” asks Big Bird.
“I’m human and I’ve been taking equine medicines,” Rogan says.
There’s a brief cameo from the “Recount Count,” who Cruz says will prove “how Trump finally won the election.”
Bert and Ernie show up and say they’re “out and proud” — hinting at a decades-long meme that they’re more than just friends. When SNL Cruz tries to cover up the reference, they say they’re engaged and show off their engagement rings.
“Involved in the fight against the tyranny of wakefulness,” Cruz translates.
Oscar the Slouch also makes an appearance.
‘Did someone say free money? … I am a department of the state. I use your tax money for drugs and pornography,” he says.
“At least he admitted it. All Democrats are him,” SNL Cruz told viewers.