Joe Biden Snl

‘SNL’s Newest Castmember Opens Season 47 Premiere With Joe Biden Press Conference

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Saturday Night Live opened its new season with a new Joe Biden — James Austin Johnson — in what was probably the highest profile introduction of a new cast member ever.

The cold open skit spoofed Biden’s attempts to secure passage of his infrastructure and social agenda amid friction between the party’s moderate and progressive wings, with a momentary appearance by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (Pete Davidson).

You may recall, “S.N.L.” did not have the easiest time finding a Biden impersonator last season: it relied on guest star Jim Carrey to fill that role during the 2020 presidential election, but to no great effect, and Carrey announced he was leaving the show after a planned six weeks.

The mantle was then passed to cast member Alex Moffat, who appeared as Biden only intermittently during the rest of the season, prompting some criticism that “S.N.L.” was pulling its punches on the 46th president.

Johnson took over the role of Biden from Alex Moffat, who played the president for the second part of last season, succeeding Jim Carrey who did the impersonation for the final leg of the presidential campaign las fall.

Most “S.N.L.” rookies can expect, at best, a single line in their debut appearances. But there was Johnson, front and center in the show’s cold open this weekend, playing President Biden as he caught up with the nation on recent events and tried to get Democrats to come to an agreement on his domestic agenda.

Other SNL cast members and guests who have portrayed the former Vice President include Kevin Nealon, Jason Sudeikis, Woody Harrelson and John Mulaney.

Johnson’s Biden is at a lectern, imitating the president’s tendency to whisper to emphasize a special point.

He then introduces the moderate Democrats, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), played by Cecily Strong, who says, “What do I want from this bill? I’ll never tell. I didn’t come to Congress to make friends, and so far, mission accomplished.”

Biden responds, “Is it just me or does she look like all the characters from Scooby Doo at the same time?”

Then there is Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), played by Aidy Bryant, who says, “I am a Democrat from West Virginia. If I vote for electric cars, they are going to kill me.”

On the left, Biden introduces members of the progressive caucus, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), played by Ego Nwodim, who says, “Thank you Joe, for not calling me Kamala.”

“For those of you who don’t know me, I was designed in a lab to give Tucker Carlson a heart attack,” she says.

There is also Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), played by Melissa Villaseñor, who says, “It’s me, the Cruella of the Met Gala. I wore the dress that said, ‘Tax the rich.’ Then spent all night partying with the rich. Oops.”

Biden then tries to get the two sides of negotiate, telling them that they are all on the same page and “we’re all saying the same damn thing.”

“That’s right, I’m saying we need at least $300 billion in clean energy tax credits,” AOC says.

Then Manchin replies, “And I’m saying zero.”

“See — same page,” Biden replies.

Then they go on. “There’s a lot of good stuff in this bill like 12 weeks of paid family leave,” Biden says.

“Six days,” Sinema replies.

“Six whole days of paid —” Biden says.

“Unpaid,” Manchin interjects.

“Unpaid six whole days,” Biden says.

“Nights,” Sinema says.

“Six nights of unpaid family half leave,” Biden says.

When Biden asks what the progressives want in return, AOC says, “What about a child tax credit?”

“Great idea, why don’t we say children don’t pay taxes,” the president responds. “It’s a lot of math.”

Then Manchin says, “If we give children too much leeway, how are we going to get them to work in the mines. We need their tiny hands to dig. All the big pieces are gone. We need kid fingers to gather the little pieces.”

The skit continued, with the progressive proposals met with opposition from the moderates, often for absurd reasons.

Roads? “I want no roads,” Sinema says. When Biden asks why, she says, “Chaos.”

When Biden brings up water, Manchin responds, “I don’t like the taste.”

Sinema also nixes lowering the cost of prescription drugs and raising taxes on billionaires.

Finally, an exasperated Biden asks Sinema the “just tell us … what do you like?”

She responds, “Yellow Starbursts. The film Polar Express. And when someone eats fish on an airplane.”

Then AOC asks, “Can’t we compromise on anything? Isn’t something better than nothing?”

Sinema replies, “Look, as a wine drinking, bisexual triathlete, I know what the average American wants. They want to be put on hold when they call 911. They want bridges that just stop, care falls down. They want water so thick you can eat it with a fork. And I will fight for that, no matter what. Unless my foot hurts, then I will go back to Arizona.” Sinema reportedly left D.C. on Friday, in the midst of the tense negotiations, to see a doctor having broken her foot during a marathon this past summer.

Biden then wants to bring up one more item: trains, his personal passion.

That’s when Cuomo comes in, and tells a frustrated Biden, “Democrats have had each other’s backs no matter what. We’re like one big Italian family. And you know what Italian families like to do? Hug and kiss and run their fingers up each other’s backs. So let’s all come together — whoop, bad choice of words there — and get this bill passed today. Just like me, it deserves a second chance…and a third chance… and up to at least 11 chances.”

Then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), played by Moffat, appears, and says, “Next time you get an email from the Democratic party with a scary subject line like, ‘It’s all over Jennifer. Democracy is dead unless you donate $7 now. Don’t panic too much. As Democrats, we’re all in this together.”

“We’re sure are, because fundamentally, we’re all the same,” Biden says.

“Screw!” Cuomo responds, getting in the last word.

Tenuous ‘Star Trek’ Parody of the Week

We’re not entirely sure why this segment spoofing Jeff Bezos’s summer sojourn into the near reaches of space had to be framed as a sendup of “Star Trek.” But it did give guest host Owen Wilson a good excuse to play a particularly reckless, cowboy-hatted Bezos, alongside his real life brother Luke Wilson, who appeared as Bezos’s younger brother and fellow astronaut Mark Bezos.

Mikey Day turned up to play one-time “S.N.L.” host Elon Musk and deliver this ultimatum: “Space is only big enough for one weird white billionaire. So you could say beating you is my prime objective.”

Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che riffed on the start of the new season and President Biden’s stalled infrastructure bill.

Jost began:

It is very exciting to be back. First show last season, Covid was raging everywhere. There was no vaccine. We were in the middle of an intense election. And right before we went on the air, the producers were like, ah, hey, real quick: The president might be dying. So have fun out there. It was an exciting time for the show. And, well, the big story this year? Infrastructure. I guess that’s an improvement on, like, a survival of the human race level. But it’s not great for TV. So if we could all just pretend to be excited about this next joke, I’d really appreciate it.

The infrastructure bill has been delayed indefinitely. So I guess we’ll cross that bridge when it collapses on top of us.

Che continued:

President Biden met with House Democrats yesterday to make a case for his Build Back Better budget plan. And no matter what you think about Biden’s plan, you’ve got to admire the confidence of a guy with a stutter naming something the Build Back Better budget plan.

The last time Davidson appeared at the Weekend Update desk in May, he seemed to be saying goodbye to “S.N.L.” entirely, telling viewers, “It’s been an honor to grow up in front of you guys, so thanks.”

But no: He was back this season and back on Weekend Update, mostly to make fun of his own attire at the Met Gala in September. (“I look like James Bond at his quinceañera.” “I look like if one of the three blind mice sold fentanyl.” “I look like Tilda Swinton on casual Friday.”)

As if to confirm that we hadn’t hallucinated his last monologue, Davidson concluded this one by shouting out, “I can’t believe I’m back!”

Weekend Update was also where “S.N.L.” paid tribute this week to Norm Macdonald, the segment’s former anchor (from 1994 to 1997), who died last month at the age of 61. Jost said that Macdonald “is the reason that I ever wanted to do Weekend Update,” then introduced a set of clips of Macdonald delivering some of his past Weekend Update jokes, including:

  • “At the White House this week, President Clinton officially came out against same-sex marriages. What’s more, the president said he is not too crazy about opposite-sex marriages either.”
  • “In a brilliant movie during closing arguments, Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran put on the knit cap prosecutors say O.J. wore on the night of the murders. Although O.J. may have hurt his case when he suddenly blurted out, ‘Hey, hey, easy with that. That’s my lucky stabbing hat.’”

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