Brow Beat

Saturday Night Live Presents Last Week’s Debate, But With Jokes!

Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Jim Carrey as Joe Biden, debating in a splitscreen image from Saturday Night Live.
Come on! NBC

Saturday Night Live took to the National Broadcasting Company’s airwaves this week with another example of the satirical takes on the political events of the day that are quickly becoming the show’s trademark. Earlier in the week, President Donald Trump and his challenger Joseph Biden met in Nashville for a debate, discussing their plans should they be elected president. On Saturday, the cast of Saturday Night Live recreated the debate, with comedians pretending to be politicians! (Look closely at “Donald Trump” and you might recognize the distinctive features of Knots Landing star Alec Baldwin—and is that The Riddler playing Biden?) The results were not always flattering to Washingtonians, but never failed to be less than hilarious. Let’s take a look!

There’s just no way to make this work. The structure of Saturday Night Live debate sketches follows the structure of the debates themselves, which means both candidates are going to get similar amounts of airtime, which means both candidates are going to get roughly the same amount of comedic attention. In this election, however, one candidate is a genial, somewhat out-of-it politician while the other is Saturn Devouring His Son. They don’t respond to the same satirical approaches, and Carrey’s efforts to bridge the gap by making Biden wackier feel like not taking Trump seriously enough.

This week’s debate was funny in a pitch-black sort of way: Trump was asked about all the orphans his administration created and responded that Joe Biden built the cages, so it was unfair to blame him for keeping children in them, then went on to boast that his administration kept their orphan cages spic and span. It’s impossible to effectively satirize that kind of evil in a sketch that also makes fun of Joe Biden for taking Amtrak. Biden and Trump are not the same kind of person, they don’t have the same kinds of flaws, and they don’t belong in the same comedy sketch any more than they belong on the same debate stage. On Nov. 3, we’ll all get a chance to help Saturday Night Live resolve this impossible problem by permanently removing one member of their cold open repertory company. Let’s not waste it.