Live from New York ... it’s Jim Carrey as Joe Biden! The former pet detective and professional riddler made his debut as the vice president turned Democratic presidential candidate on the Season 46 premiere of Saturday Night Live, which returned to Studio 8H for the first time since March. Carrey took over the role from former Biden Jason Sudeikis, and wasted little time putting his own stamp on the part in the cold open, which revisited the first presidential debate that took place four days and 100 news cycles ago.
“We thought it was important to see again as it might be the only presidential debate,” an opening crawl stated, as a way of explaining why the SNL writers opted to avoid the most current headlines, which otherwise would have required a cold open featuring Alec Baldwin’s President Donald Trump reviewing documents at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
Instead of the amiable goofball that Sudeikis played, the Sonic the Hedgehog star and political artist portrayed Biden as an elder statesman (emphasis on the word “elder”) working hard to keep his darker impulses in check. “Don’t let your inner Whitey Bulger come out,” Carrey said as Trump taunted him from six feet away. “Flash that smile like they taught you in anger management.” But those Bulger-esque flashes came through anyway, whether repeating the real Biden’s already immortal line — “Will you just shut up, man?” — or promising Trump that he was going to “rip your face off like a mad chimp” if any more guff was given. We also got a peek at how Biden kept his temper in check: the dulcet meditative tones of Harry Styles, who made a thought bubble cameo.
In other words, Carrey didn’t do an impression of Biden so much as perform an impressionistic interpretation of the former vice president. That approach received some mixed reviews on Twitter.
I hope Joe Biden wins so we get at least 4 years of Jim Carrey on SNL. #SNLPremiere
— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) October 4, 2020
Jim Carrey's Joe Biden absolutely sucks in case you were wondering
— Ash (@AshBCoffin) October 4, 2020
So Jim Carrey’s Biden is basically just The Mask in a dark suit?
— Garrett Haake (@GarrettHaake) October 4, 2020
— 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐲 ➐ (@MannyR___) October 4, 2020
not gonna lie, i'm not a fan of jim carrey as biden
— Tyler Bagent (@tillerbagel) October 4, 2020
I didn’t know how much I missed Jim Carrey until tonight.
Biden v Trump on SNL is GOLD
— Alejandro Guerra (@Cinephile420) October 4, 2020
Jason Sudeikis' Biden > Woody Harrelson’s Biden > Jim Carrey’s Biden https://t.co/jzzj9VoTYl
— Bill Scher (@billscher) October 4, 2020
On the other hand, social media was ready to nominate Carrey’s running mate — Maya Rudolph’s Kamala Harris — to the highest office in the land. Rudolph only made a brief appearance in the cold open, but “Mamala” had the line of the night when she reminded us all why America needs a “WAP.” You know ... a “Woman as President.”
Maya Rudolph as Kamala is far better than Jim Carrey as Joe.
— David Darmofal (@david_darmofal) October 4, 2020
— VK (@votekamala) October 4, 2020
America needs a WAP: Woman as President. Exactly...and it should be Maya Rudolph. #SaturdayNightLive
— ella (@tearsofgreys) October 4, 2020
That interminable cold opening really illustrates why SNL shouldn't try to hype their celebrity cameo impressions anymore. It only came alive when Maya Rudolph showed up. #SNLPremiere
— Bronwyn Douwsma 🏳️🌈 (@bronwyn_douwsma) October 4, 2020
Speaking of “WAP,” SNL musical guest Megan Thee Stallion earned the best social media reviews of the season premiere after Rudolph’s cameo. During her performance of “Savage,” the rapper embraced the kind of explicit political commentary that the rest of the show — including host Chris Rock — mostly danced around. Projecting the words “Protect Black Women,” as well as searing criticism of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron for his handling of the Breonna Taylor case, her performance immediately trended on Twitter.
Megan Thee Stallion used the first performance of the #SNLPremiere to advocate for the protection of Black women, calling out Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who handled the Breonna Taylor case. pic.twitter.com/nhprinAdi4
— honest papi 💯𒊹︎ (@trey_forde) October 4, 2020
Megan thee Stallion went for Daniel Cameron’s jugular on SNL & he’s at home like pic.twitter.com/DXkq9ZJc96
— Charles J. Moore (@charles270) October 4, 2020
— Jasmine Harrison (@JasmineJay92) October 4, 2020
megan thee stallion using her platform on her snl performance to voice out such a powerful message “we need to protect our black women” this is why i love her pic.twitter.com/pB1n9uEgQc
— jojo⁷ ✰ (@svntrm) October 4, 2020
— Raymund Flandez (@raymundf23) October 4, 2020
While Rudolph revived her Kamala Harris impression, Kate McKinnon officially retired her beloved version of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, two weeks after the Supreme Court justice’s death on Sept. 18. McKinnon’s RBG didn’t appear in a sketch, but was glimpsed sitting among the audience of first responders, followed by a title card reading: “Rest in power.”
— Dawn Young-McDaniel ♿️ #VOTE (@justdawn_) October 4, 2020
The RBG cameo was the best and worse part of #SNL Thank you Kate McKinnon for always honoring her. ❤💔
— Wonder Woman 🐝 #BidenHarris2020 (@AlsoWonderWoman) October 4, 2020
— ꪜote 45 Out (@RedHeadedScot) October 4, 2020
The whole premiere has been 🔥 out of the gate. Megan Thee Stallion calling out Daniel Cameron, Woman As President, Edith Puthie. But this right here got me. #KatemcKinnon is a goddess. Comes thru when we need her most.Up there w when she opened w Hallelujah in 2016 #restinpower https://t.co/4Tg14mZyHm
— mandy fleming (@lucindafortoday) October 4, 2020
Look for Carrey and Rudolph to return on next week’s Bill Burr-hosted episode. Maybe Mamala can use the next week to give the would-be POTUS some pointers.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. on NBC
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