Dueling Town Halls Channel Bob Ross and Wrestlemania on “SNL”

No fly suits this time, but a chair was used as a melee weapon

"SNL" took on this week's rival town halls.

What happens when one planned presidential debate turns into a pair of rival town halls? That was the situation facing American voters last week — as well as the writers of Saturday Night Live, who assumably had to scramble to deal with the change in formats. For the opening sketch of the October 17 episode, the rival events were presented “the way most Americans watched them … Flipping back and forth, trying to decide between a Hallmark movie and an alien autopsy.”

In practice, this meant a steadily escalating series of jokes alternated by bursts of static. Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump was evasive; Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden was rambling. In perhaps the best gag of the sketch, Carrey went full Bob Ross while still using soaring Biden-esque rhetoric.

Other highlights from the sketch included Baldwin and Kate McKinnon’s Savannah Guthrie going full Wrestlemania; Maya Rudolph’s Kamala Harris showing up at the Trump town hall and Chris Redd as a Biden town hall attendee grappling with an odd seating assignment.

It may not have reached the bizarre heights of last week’s Vice Presidential debate sketch, but the alternating format helped keep things moving. The debate cold opens to date have been, shall we say, not short, and leaning into the sketch as a series of gags kept the pace brisk. The final presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday; odds are good that next week’s episode will bring one more riff on that.

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