Brow Beat

Oh No! Saturday Night Live Made Jim Carrey Play the Debate Fly!

Jim Carrey as Joe Biden, wearing a fly costume, atop a giant white fuzzy floor meant to evoke Mike Pence's hair.
I heard a Fly buzz—when I died— NBC

This week, Saturday Night Live performed what should have been a revolutionary scientific experiment: The worst events of another terrible week in America were supposed to be broken down into individual atoms by a disintegrator, beamed into homes all over the country at the speed of light, and re-assembled into something funny and cathartic by special receiving sets. If all had gone as planned, it would have been a revolutionary demonstration of the power of science and sketch comedy. Unfortunately, it seems like a Jim Carrey slipped into the disintegrator when no one was looking, and the results were horrific:

So the first seven and a half minutes here are not great, but they’re just regular old SNL-on-an-average-week not great. To the extent there’s a motivating idea besides “the debate, but funny!” it’s that Mike Pence is creepy and dishonest and Kamala Harris changes her positions, which, fair enough on both counts. The back half of this sketch, though, is a monster created by atoms gone wild. The premise is that Joe Biden has the teleporter from the 1986 remake of The Fly, except that instead of just becoming part fly, he also becomes part Jeff Goldblum, and, in an unrelated incident, Herman Cain has been reincarnated as a fly somewhere in Utah. Wacky! Once Carrey shows up, there’s nothing that evokes Joe Biden, or last week’s vice-presidential debate, or last week in general, or any film version of The Fly, but it did remind me of George Langelaan’s original 1957 short story “The Fly.” Specifically, this passage:

I who had ever been a true Catholic, who believed in God and another, better life hereafter, have today but one hope: that when I die, I really die, and that there may be no afterlife of any sort because, if there is, then I shall never forget! Day and night, awake or asleep, I see it, and I know I am condemned to see it forever, even perhaps into oblivion!

What a lovely tribute to this often-overlooked master of the macabre. It’s kind of a shame, though, that Herman Cain’s tragic death from COVID-19 got sucked into such a comedy vacuum. So in his honor, here’s “Ride the Cain Train,” the lead track from Tim Heidecker’s 2011 Herman Cain tribute album Cainthology (Songs in the Key of Cain).

At this point, we might as well make it the national anthem.