Sarah Silverman Tackles Joan Rivers, Ebola on "Saturday Night Live" - NBC Chicago

"Saturday Night Live" 40th Anniversary

"Saturday Night Live" celebrates 40 years with a star-studded NBC special airing live on February 15.

Sarah Silverman Tackles Joan Rivers, Ebola on "Saturday Night Live"

In one of the most memorable sketches, the host played the late Joan Rivers roasting fellow late celebrities in heaven.

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    Sarah Silverman got chummy with her audience on "Saturday Night Live" this week, before tackling Ebola and paying tribute to Joan Rivers with an uncanny impression of the late comic legend.

    Silverman "got real" in her opening monologue, acknowledging how many hosts gush about how "crazy" it is to be on the "SNL" stage. "I mean, is it really 'crazy?'" she asked. "I'm kind of a big comedian. It really makes all the sense in the world." 

    Silverman asked for a hand-held mic and made her way into the audience. "C'mon, let's get real! This is live television," she said, and proceeded to plop herself in an audience member's lap and strike up a conversation that meandered from fishing for compliments to reflecting on youth.

    "I guess I should go back to the stage," she said eventually, and mentioned her brief stint as a featured performer on "SNL" in the '90s. "I wasn't in much. I'd mostly be, like, a plant in the audience -- you know, asking fake questions to the host during the monologue," she said, then immediately took several questions from the audience.

    One of the show's highlights was its tribute to the late Joan Rivers. Silverman gave a spot-impression of her fellow female comedian in a sketch that imagined the "Fashion Police" pioneer, who died Sept 4., getting into heaven -- and roasting everyone she found there.

    "Heaven? Are you serious? Me in heaven?" she asked incredulously, before being given the floor to roast a range of late celebrities in attendance, including Freddie Mercury (musical guest Adam Levine), Ben Franklin (Bobby Moynihan), Lucille Ball (Kate McKinnon) and Steve Jobs (Kyle Mooney).

    "So many incredible people here tonight, even Steve Jobs right here!" Silverman as Rivers said. "Steve, I hope you're forced to buy a newer, better casket every six months so you can see how we feel, am I right?" she said, referring to Apple's constant product launches and updates, before she went on to poke fun at his cohorts in the afterlife.

    "Listen people, comedy is to make us laugh and to deal with things," she concluded by saying. "So open the gates and let me in here -- let's start this show!"

    Elsewhere, the show put the week's news at the forefront, skewering the Secret Service's recent foibles, most notably when a man armed with a knife scaled a fence and charged into the White House, and the arrival of the Ebola virus in the U.S.

    The cold open imagined a Secret Service agent interrupting a "60 Minutes" interview with President Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah) just as the president was promising that security was under control.

    "Excuse me, Mr. President, there is a man with a sharpened screw driver here to see you," Killamtold Pharoah. "We think that this might be time-sensative, as he was running across the front lawn. I"ll just have him wait in the Oval Office."

    The "Weekend Update" also discussed the security of the White House and the resignation of its chief, Julia Pierson. "Pierson made the announcement as she dove out the way of a man running toward the president," said co-anchor Colin Jost.

    Ebola also made an appearance, days after the potentially deadly virus arrived in the United States. Silverman recreated the teen drama "The Fault in Our Stars" to play a sick teen in a mock trailer for a sequel about two sick teens interested in each other despite their illnesses. When Silverman revealed she had Ebola, her love interest's (Taran Killam) feelings dramatically changed.

    Jost and new "Weekend Update" co-anchor Michael Che also skewered the Ebola virus, mentioning the first patient diagnosed in the U.S., a man in Dallas who fell ill days after the Liberian government says he lied on an airport health questionnaire about having been exposed.

    "It's good to know that our hospitals are holding Ebola patients to the same standard as a Facebook quiz," Jost remarked.

    Maroon 5, led by "The Voice" coach turned Freddie Mercury impersonator Adam Levine, closed out the show by performing their hit songs "Animal" and "Maps" from their new album "V."

    Next week, Bill Hader will be hosting with the band Hoize as musical guest.