Presidential politics took center stage on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” with “President Obama,” “Mitt Romney” and “Paul Ryan” all appearing at the outset of the show Saturday evening on NBC.
It was a “cold open” aimed at signaling that “SNL” has arrived on the campaign trail, and it intends to stay on it through Election Day (Nov. 6), if not beyond.
The show — guest-hosted by Seth MacFarlane — began with Fred Armisen, formerly the go-to cast member to play President Obama, introducing the “president” at a campaign event.
It was a changing-of-the-guard for this crucial “SNL” role in an election season that had Jay Pharoah, 24, taking over the Obama-impersonation duties. Pharoah, one of the least known of the “SNL” cast members, now gets a chance to achieve national fame at a time — the election season — when “SNL” will be widely watched.
Also in the same “cold open”: Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney and Taran Killam, in the role of Paul Ryan — another portrayal that will likely be crucial in the weeks ahead.
The subject of politics also came up when “SNL” made reference to Clint Eastwood’s now-infamous “dialogue” with an empty chair at the GOP National Convention last month.
In the “SNL” rendering of that never-to-be-forgotten appearance, Bill Hader impersonated Eastwood in a spoof commercial for an hour-long version of the performance.
Of course, what would a timely, topical late-night comedy show be without making some sort of reference to the No. 1 sensation that’s sweeping the nation (and making its presence felt in late-night monologues from coast-to-coast). We speak, of course, of Honey Boo Boo, the precocious kiddie-pageant contestant from rural Georgia whose new reality series on TLC has become a national phenomenon.
And so, “SNL” took on Honey Boo Boo and her fun-loving family in a bit seen during “Weekend Update” on Saturday night. The bit had Honey Boo Boo and her mother coming on stage to join “Update” anchor Seth Meyers to give their take on the presidential election.
Lest we forget, this edition of “SNL” was guest-hosted by the very funny Seth MacFarlane, wunderkind behind “Family Guy,” “The Cleveland Show” and other Fox animated hits. He’s also proven himself to be a capable performer on-stage (in addition to supplying numerous voices on his animated show and on the megahit movie “Ted”), particularly as the emcee of Comedy Central roasts.
And among the things one expects from MacFarlane, for better or worse, is “edgy” comedy — such as the comment he made about the late Farrah Fawcett at the beginning of his monologue on “SNL”.
We’re including this next clip from Saturday’s show because it features two elements we happen to like. First, it spoofs a very current TV show — Steve Harvey’s new daytime talk show that premiered earlier this month — and we love it when TV spoofs TV. And it also stars — as Harvey — Kenan Thompson, who happens to be one of our favorite “SNL” performers, both current and all-time.