Jim Carrey makes his debut as Joe Biden on the 'SNL' season premiere, but Maya Rudolph steals the show

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.

Jim Carrey as Joe Biden on Saturday Night Live. (Photo: NBC/Twitter)
Jim Carrey as Joe Biden on Saturday Night Live. (Photo: NBC/Twitter)

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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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