The cold open for this week’s Saturday Night Live was another round of celebrity cameo bingo, and this time the winning card had Pose’s Billy Porter, Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Saturday Night Live From Two Weeks Ago’s Woody Harrelson, who returned to the show to reprise his role as Joe Biden for the very first time since Saturday Night Live two weeks ago. The subject was the Democratic presidential candidates’ LGBTQ town hall from earlier in the week, complete with all the Biden weirdness. The town hall’s structure lent itself more naturally to SNL’s cameo game than one of those sketches where Donald Trump calls in his advisors one by one instead of simply scheduling a meeting, but having Billy Porter announce each politician’s entry really hammers home the idea that the fun is mostly in the stunt casting. Harrelson even gets a drum roll:
Harrelson is the standout, both because Biden’s performance at the town hall was exceptionally weird and because Woody Harrelson is a great comic actor. (Look at the way he throws away “false memory,” just for starters.) But the sketch is all buildup with almost no payoff, and none of the jokes hit as hard as the entrances. As far as SNL Kremlinology goes, there are two possible ways to read Harrelson’s repeat casting, after a season in which Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, and other A-listers regularly returned to the show to play people in Trump’s orbit. Either Woody Harrelson is planning to spend a lot more time on Saturday Night Live in the near future, or Saturday Night Live thinks Biden is going to be spending a lot more time with his family in the even nearer future. Either outcome would be fine.