As ‘Saturday Night Live’ wrapped up the ‘Weekend Update’ segment in the show’s recent quarantine-themed episode shot inside cast members’ homes and over Zoom calls, Michael Che signed off with a shout-out to his grandmother.
“From Weekend Update, I’m Martha’s grandbaby,” he said.
This week, Che was once again inspired by his late grandmother, who recently died of the novel coronavirus. He announced on Instagram on Wednesday night that he will pay one month’s rent for the residents living in a New York public housing complex where Martha resided until the 1990s.
“Obviously I can’t offer much help by myself,” he said. “But in the spirit and memory of my late grandmother, I’m paying one month’s rent for all 160 apartments in the [New York City Housing Authority] building she lived in.”
Che joins the ranks of other celebrities who have donated in connection with the coronavirus pandemic in one way or another. Some famous landlords, such as actors Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, have given tenants a break on April rent. Others, like Kylie Jenner and musician John Mayer, have donated money to help hospitals buy medical supplies such as gloves, masks and ventilators.
Che said the building in which his grandmother, Martha, lived for years holds a meaningful place in his family’s history, even though his grandmother moved out of the public housing building in the 1990s. That is why he chose to pay rent for the 160 people who live there now.
He discussed Martha’s death during the recent episode of ‘SNL’ hosted by Tom Hanks, who was one of the first major celebrities to catch the coronavirus and recently recovered from COVID-19. During the ‘Weekend Update’ segment taped via Zoom, Che told co-star Colin Jost that coming back to work had helped him feel better.
“I’m doing OK, considering,” he wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post announcing his grandmother’s death. “I’m obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone. But I’m also happy that she’s not in pain anymore.”