Less than three weeks after September 11, 2001, the cast and crew of "Saturday Night Live" returned to Studio 8H for one of the most memorable openings of the show's history.

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani stood on stage, flanked by two-dozen firefighters and police officers who hadn't yet left Ground Zero.

Calling "Saturday Night Live" one of New York's greatest institutions, Giuliani said, "Having our city's institutions up and running sends a message that New York City is open for business."

After a sombering performance of "The Boxer" by Paul Simon, Lorne Michaels joined Giuliani on stage and asked, "Can we be funny?"

The mayor bantered, "Why start now?" 

Reese Witherspoon was the host, and Alicia Keys was the musical guest. It was Amy Poehler and Seth Meyer's first episode as new cast members.

The clip below from a 2006 episode of Sundance Channel and Grey Goose Entertainment's "Iconoclasts" — a series that profiles creative visionaries, including Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon — describes the experience.

Watch below:

See Also:

Miley Cyrus, Tina Fey, And Bruce Willis Kick Off 'SNL' This SeasonHere's The Preview For 'Breaking Bad' Season 5 Episode 14Sophia Vergara Is The Highest-Earning TV Actress By A Landslide

SEE ALSO: A Compilation Video Of 'Saturday Night Live' Cast Members Breaking Character In Laughter