Can “Eastwooding” and Malarkey Transform the Latest Debate Sketch on “SNL”?

Time for one last debate sketch before the election

SNL debate sketch
Another presidential debate means another SNL cold open riffing on it.

Last week brought with it the final presidential debate of the 2020 election, and so it came as little surprise that last night’s Saturday Night Live opened with another debate parody as its cold open.

The latest edition of the cold open, though, felt a little more restrained that previous outings. There wasn’t the chaotic energy of the dueling town halls sketch, nor was there anything as bizarre as the spectacle of Jim Carrey simultaneously channeling Joe Biden and Jeff Goldblum.

Carrey and Alec Baldwin were ably supported by Maya Rudolph (playing moderator Kristen Welker this time out) and Kate McKinnon (with a brief but memorable Rudy Giuliani appearance). And when the sketch ventured headlong into the surreal — as when Carrey added a bit of Clint Eastwood to his Biden impression — it made for some of the best moments.

The same was true of Rudolph as Welker taking a shot whenever Biden said the word “malarkey,” and the same was true of McKinnon’s Giuliani, simultaneously satirizing his appearance in the Borat sequel and spouting a kind of paranoid word salad. Nonetheless, it made for a more sedate affair than the show’s previous takes on the debates. Is this election brushing up against the limits of satire?

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