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Meagan Cappa, of Wayne, spent a month to secure COVID-19 vaccines for her parents and grandparents. Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 NorthJersey.com

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Saturday Night Live ripped the vaccine rollout this weekend with an opening skit that poked fun at the array of confusing guidelines and took a jab at New Jersey.

The NBC comedy opened with a game show called, "So You Think You Can Get the Vaccine," moderated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, played by Kate McKinnon.

"Getting the vaccine shouldn't be a competition but Americans will only want to get it if it means someone else can't," said McKinnon's Fauci. 

The game show's panel of judges allowed "everyday Americans the chance to vie for vaccine eligibility" and aptly demonstrated the confusion prompted by arbitrary rollout rules: California Governor Gavin Newsom played by Alex Moffat, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, played by Pete Davidson, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, played by Cecily Strong. 

Among the contestants was a woman pretending to be elderly so she could get the vaccine so she could hook up with a guy, and another claiming to be an "essential worker" because she does IT for OnlyFans and whose preexisting conditions included a bad attitude and herpes.

Then came Ronald, a proud "smoker from New Jersey.

"I'm Ronald. I'm from New Jersey and I looove cigarettes," he said, waving a burning cigarette around in the air.

More: NJ opens COVID vaccine to seniors, those with chronic medical conditions and smokers

More: Younger adults navigate guilt, pressure in seeking COVID vaccine slots for older relatives

Ronald's antics arouse the skepticism of Cuomo. "Are you just saying that because in New Jersey they are giving the vaccine to smokers?" he asks suspiciously.

"What??? No! I love smoking. I love the squishy part. I love the burning part. It's all my favorite!" Then Ronald dissolves into a fit of coughing. "Ok this is terrible," he admits. "I have to go get some water." 

The eventual winner is an 85-year-old grandfather, who is dismayed when he learns that he has to to sign up online. "What's that?" he asks in utter confusion. He only uses a computer for spider solitaire.  

The contestant ultimately cannot get the vaccine because he doesn't know any young people with enough spare time to click refresh for "three straight days."

More: Thousands of one-shot J&J COVID vaccine doses expected to be shipped to NJ next week

Need a COVID vaccine in NJ?: This list tells you which sites have appointments available

This skit was apparently better received than a recent one by Michael Che in which he joked that "Israel is reporting they've vaccinated half of their population. I'm going to guess it's the Jewish half."

That joked sparked an uproar by several Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, which asserted that the joke crossed a line because it was factually incorrect and played into antisemitic tropes. 

The American Jewish Committee distributed a petition asking NBC for an apology and, on Saturday night, Dov Hikind. founder of the Brooklyn-based Americans Against Antisemitism led a group of about 100 protesters in front of NBC headquarters. 

"We need one standard for hate, not for it to be ignored when it's directed at Jews," Hikind said. "Antisemitism is never funny." 

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Deena Yellin covers religion for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to her work covering how the spiritual intersects with our daily lives, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: yellin@northjersey.com 

Twitter: @deenayellin 

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