Ah, the early days of a presidential election cycle. For a sketch comedian, there’s no better time.
There are endless potential candidates out there to do impressions of and, since nobody really knows who they are, the impressions don’t even have to be that good. Such was the case when Saturday Night Live rolled out its first debate sketch of the season, and the stage was packed with new (parody) faces.
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First, we have Molly Kearney as Chris Christie, then Heidi Gardner as Nikki Haley, John Higgins as Ron DeSantis, Ego Nwodim as Vivek Ramaswamy, and Devon Walker as Tim Scott. It’s, frankly, a shame that we don’t see this more often. Say what you will about any particular SNL cast member, but there isn’t a single one who doesn’t have 10 times more comedy chops than you’ll ever see on display on the show, and all of them should get a chance to play some (semi)famous people. Would it be the worst thing to see different folks trying their Biden occasionally? Or a new Trump?
Speaking of Trump, James Austin Johnson is out after barely two minutes to commandeer the scene – poor Higgins doesn’t even get out one line as DeSantis the whole sketch; he just works an unsettling smile. It seems that Trump, too, is interested in the mechanics of SNL as he “pauses” the action and begins to deconstruct the casting. “Poor Ego,” he says of her role as Ramaswamy, “You don’t like it. She doesn’t like it.”
Nwodim and Gardner did get a little time to skewer the profoundly awkward TikTok exchange from the debate; Walker also got to have fun with Scott bringing his mysterious, previously unnamed girlfriend onstage after the event.
And there’s “one of the [Please Don’t] Destroy boys,” referring to Higgins — who isn’t even technically part of the cast — as “Meatball Ron” DeSantis. “Even SNL doesn’t think he has a chance,” says Trump. “If he did, it’d be like, Paul Rudd in there or something.” Which might be good news for DeSantis – would his polling numbers go up if just from people wanting to see Rudd regularly on the show?
Watch a clip of the sketch above, then grade this week’s episode:
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