Saturday Night Live proved to be full of surprises on Easter weekend, casting Jimmy Fallon as Jared Kushner and heralding the return of Melissa McCarthy's Sean Spicer – dressed as the Easter bunny – continuing its ongoing parody of the Donald Trump administration.

The show opened by taking aim over the alleged tensions between chief strategist Steve Bannon and US President's Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

Providing a debut to Fallon's Kushner, the US chat show host appeared in a replica of the much-maligned suit and army vest combination Kushner wore on a recent trip to Afghanistan.

Fighting to save his career, the character silently begged Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump to pick him in an Apprentice-style face-off against Bannon, again portrayed as the Grim Reaper.

"There's been a lot of drama in the house," Trump tells the two men. "But one of you has to go. It's elimination night."

In a more direct homage to the reality competition show, America's Next Top Model, Trump tells the pair he has a picture of one of them in his hands, and, whoever it is, gets to keep their job.

"If you don't see your photo you must immediately leave your office, and join Kellyanne Conway in the basement," Baldwin's Trump says.

"But don't worry, your journey doesn't end tonight – because you'll get to come back and decide if I go to prison."

After the presidential caricature reveals he's holding a picture of Kushner, Bannon congratulates Fallon before being dragged away by another reaper.

Sean Spicer, the Holocaust and the Easter bunny

But the most cutting skit of the night again proved to be McCarthy's take on the White House's embattled spokesman.

Predictably returning in a week that Spicer sparked outrage with comments about the Holocaust — first falsely claiming Hitler did not use chemical weapons on "his own people" and then bizarrely describing concentration camps as "Holocaust centres" — the comedienne pulled no punches.

Dressed as the Easter bunny, not only in keeping with the season but because Spicer once worked at The White House as the bunny (yes, really), McCarthy began with her typical refrain of "Shut up! Shut up!" to the press.

"Spicey finally made a mistake," the parody began, as the sketch then directly addressed his Holocaust remarks, made in an attempt to justify the recent unilateral missile strike on Syria.

Struggling to pronounce Bashar al-Assad, Spicer added: "Everybody freaked. They were all like, 'Boo-hoo, what about the Holocaust Centres.' Yeah I know they're not the holocaust centres. I know that," Spicer says. "I clearly meant to say 'concentration clubs'."

A reference to the United Airlines passenger scandal was also thrown in, apparently made ad-lib by McCarthy:

"I am sensitive to the fact they were sent there on trains but at least they didn't have to fly United." the Spicer character said.

After using dolls to incorrectly describe the Passover, Spicer ended the conference by trashing the press room in a motorised golf-cart, redecorated as an Easter egg.

Taking a swig of what appeared to be an alcoholic spirit, the mock secretary concluded:

"By the way, the president's probably going to bomb North Korea, so eat as much candy as you want because this is probably our last Easter on Earth," in a dry reference to growing fears of war with North Korea.

The 14 April show also marked the first SNL was aired live at the same time across the US in a coast-to-coast broadcast.

Fallon is set to join Chris Pine on 6 May, McCarthy on 13 May and Dwayne Johnson on 20 May as respective hosts of the three remaining cost-to-coast episodes.