WATCH: Brad Pitt plays Anthony Fauci in ‘SNL’ sketch stinging Trump

On the second ‘At Home’ episode, the tech is better and the jokes are funnier.

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Brad Pitt plays Dr. Anthony Fauci on the April 25, 2020, episode of “Saturday Night Live.” NBC

NBC

Check off one of the requests on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s wish list: Tonight he was portrayed by Brad Pitt.

The casting on this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live at Home” wasn’t entirely a surprise. When CNN prompted Fauci earlier this month with a few actors who could play him on the show, he laughed and chose “Brad Pitt, of course!”

Sure enough, the “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” Oscar winner and esteemed sex symbol was there at the start of Saturday’s show, wearing a wig and affecting Fauci’s distinctive rasp.

The premise: The country’s top infectious disease expert wants to clarify some of President Donald Trump’s statement on COVID-19. Showing the clip of Trump promising that “like a miracle, [the coronavirus] will disappear,” fake Fauci said, “We all love miracles, but miracles should not be Plan A. Even Sully tried to land at the airport first.”

By the time he got to Trump floating the idea of disinfectant injections and extolling the wonders of sunlight, all he could do it put his head in his hands.

At the scene’s end, Pitt took off his wig and spoke as himself to thank Fauci and medical workers and say, “Live, kinda, from all over America, it’s ‘Saturday Night.’ ”

This was a rare “SNL” with no host; while Pitt returned to introduce musical guest Miley Cyrus, he did not deliver a monologue after the opening credits or say good night at show’s end (as Tom Hanks did two weeks ago). But celebrity wattage was not in short supply; a Pete Davidson song about sheltering at home features a few stanzas by Adam Sandler (and, briefly, Rob Schneider), Paul Rudd played himself Facetiming with a goofball cousin (Heidi Gardner) and singer Bad Bunny riffed with Big Papi (Kenan Thompson).

For all that, the real stars were behind the scenes: the writer, editors, graphic designers and others who have made huge leaps comedically and technologically since the somewhat static Hanks episode.

The pace was quicker, the dialogue crisper. And the tech team got a little more ambitious, managing to put together far-apart actors without confining them to little Zoom-style boxes. Behind Colin Jost and Michael Che were the usual “Weekend Update” maps instead of their personal interior decorating. And Kyle Mooney and Chloe Fineman each did scenes opposite themselves.

As Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon played grocers advertising unwanted items like Peeps Soup and Pepto-Bismol Oreos, they were supposed to be next to one another but clearly weren’t, and the show had fun with that, setting them up for a handshake and a high five that came nowhere near connecting.

Some past characters came back in contexts suiting the new limitations: Mikey Day’s Snapchat victim Brian Sutter was now being funny-filtered by his disgruntled teen daughter as he recovered from COVID-19 at home, and the would-be SoulCycle leaders did their tryouts from home. The sad sack at the Whiskers R We cat shelter (Kate McKinnon) talked up the merits of 20 or so potential adoptees, obviously all played by the same kitty.

We even saw the return of “What’s Up With That,” a fixture of the early 2010s. Easily distracted host Diondre Cole (Kenan Thompson) was reunited with the curly-haired sax player (Fred Armisen) and the tracksuited dancer (Jason Sudeikis), this time in a high-energy swirl of corny camera wipes, animated backgrounds and pulsating graphics of cannons and fishies and stuff. The guests denied a chance to speak were Charles Barkley, DJ Khaled and (in an old photo) Bill Hader as Lindsay Buckingham.

Footnote: This was Pitt’s second time uttering “It’s ‘Saturday Night,’ ” more than two decades after he said the magic words during a sketch with David Spade. Lately he’s been indulging his silly side a lot, sending silly menu items to Jimmy Fallon and delivering the weather for Jim Jefferies.

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