During his pre-taped intro, the Oscar winner made light of his own battle with coronavirus and how that led to SNL reaching out to ask him to be a part of their return to TV.
"It is a strange time to try to be funny, but trying to be funny is SNL's whole thing, so we thought, 'What the heck, let's give it a shot,'" Hanks shared. "Why me as host? Well, for one, I have been the celebrity canary in the coal mine for the coronavirus."
"Ever since being diagnosed I have been more like America's dad than ever before," Hanks said. "[In that] no one wants to be around me very long, and I make people uncomfortable."
He also joked about what it was like getting medical treatment in Australia, and how little cultural differences made things a little harder to understand.
"Now, the folks in Australia are fantastic in every way, but they use Celsius instead of Fahrenheit when they take your temperature," Hanks shared. "So, when they came in and said, 'You're 36,' it seemed very bad to me. It turns out 36 is fine. 38 is bad. So basically, it's how Hollywood treats female actors."
"Now, my wife and I, we're doing fine, we're doing great. We're hunkered down like all of us should be," Hanks continued. "In fact, this suit, this is the first time I've worn anything other than sweat pants since March 11th. And my wife had to help me put it on, because I forgot how buttons work."
Hanks also eased people into the new format of the show, which is very different than anything SNL has ever done before, and joked that it was "going to look a little different."
"For one thing, it is has been filmed by the SNL cast who are currently quarantined in their homes," Hanks explained. "There's no such thing as Saturdays anymore. It's just, 'Everyday is today' and we're not really live, but we are doing everything we can to make this feel like the SNL you know and love."
To prove his point, Hanks then took questions from "the audience" -- which was just him, but in a few silly costumes -- and got back to the job of easing viewers into what the show was going to entail.
"We have a great show for you tonight. Now, is it going to look a little different than what you're used to? Yes. Will it be weird to see sketches without big sets and costumes? Sure. But will it make you laugh? Ehh, you know, it's SNL. There will be some good stuff, maybe one or two stinkers, you know the drill."
Hanks then closed out the monologue with a touching and heartfelt message of gratitude and unity.
"Stay safe. We are in this for the duration and we will get through this together. We are going to thank our hospital workers, our first responders and all the helpers, the supermarket stockers, the people who deliver our food, the people who are making takeout for us, the men and women who are keeping this country going at a time when we need them more than ever before," Hanks said. "We're going to take care of them and we're going to take care of each other. So, let's try to now just enjoy the show!"
SNL airs live, coast-to-coast, Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.