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Bowen Yang Describes Making SNL's George Santos Musical Sketch with Colin Jost

"It dawned on me as I was playing the piano onstage, it's just going to be me singing for this whole cold open," Yang said of the song parody written by Colin Jost. 

By Christopher Rudolph

George Santos might be gone from Congress, but Bowen Yang's impression of him will never be forgotten.

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

The latest installment of SNL Sketch Rewind stars the Saturday Night Live cast member, who explains how he came to play the disgraced former GOP congressman in several sketches. 

In the new video, Yang recounted his farewell performance as Santos from the December 2, 2023 episode of SNL, in which he sang a reworked rendition of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" during the show's cold open. It was the capper on a successful run of Santos impressions from Yang. 

"George Santos happened in January 2023," he recalled, referring to the scandal. "I had done very bashful shopping around the office that Monday where I was like, 'Is anyone going to play him?' I went to the '[Weekend] Update' desk and I was like, 'I think I have an idea.'"

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Bowen Yang sings during the cold open for Saturday Night Live Episode 1850

Yang originally played Santos twice in the same January 22, 2023 episode. On the Friday before that show, in addition to the "Weekend Update" segment he had planned, "I find out that Colin [Jost] wants to write a cold open." That became the "NFL on Fox" cold open, in which Yang's Santos changed into drag, referencing headlines from that period.

NFL on Fox Cold Open

The grand finale "Scandal in the Wind" number was conceived after when the Republican congressman was formally expelled in a 311-114 majority vote on December 1, 2023. Yang said that SNL creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels tasked him with donning the Santos sweater and glasses one last time.

Weekend Update: Colin Jost Interviews Rep. George Santos Again

Lorne Michaels asked Bowen Yang to sing George Santos' song

"I get a couple calls from people: 'Lorne wants to see you when you come into the studio,'" revealed the Wicked actor. "I come into Lorne's office, where he basically sits me down with all the producers being like, 'you're going to be playing George Santos, and you're going to be singing 'Candle in the Wind,' and Colin [Jost]'s going to write.' So it's going to be funny, but it's going to come in late.'"

In the cold opening, Yang played Santos, who is holding a press conference, accusing the entire country of bullying him just because he's "a proud, gay thief."

"What else is new? America hates to see a Latina queen winning," Yang's Santos continued. Yang's Santos ended his press conference by singing "a tribute to myself," flipping his coat into a cape as he sat behind the piano unveiled behind him.

Bowen Yang Lorne Michaels and Kate Mckinnon attend the 2022 Emmys

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Yang's Santos belted a new rendition of Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," with lyrics about his brief, scandal-filled days in national politics.

"It dawned on me as I was playing the piano onstage, it's just going to be me singing for this whole cold open. That's horrifying," Yang said the video. "I can count on one hand the amount of times we ran it, but we did it, and it went great."

"My brain kind of short circuits," Yang said while he rewatched the clip of himself singing live. "I think that was the point where my soul left my body."

"That was a crazy 24-hour process," he added. "I miss George, but I don't really miss him."

Watch the original "George Santos Expelled" cold open below.

George Santos Expelled Cold Open