From the moment that an errant fly touched down on Vice President Mike Pence during Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate, “Saturday Night Live” viewers started imploring the show to recreate the awkward moment. And “S.N.L.” did just that — at some extravagant length — in this weekend’s opening sketch, leading off an episode full of comedy monologues that were certain to offend almost every sensibility and political viewpoint.
But first, that vice-presidential debate parody, which starred Beck Bennett as Vice President Pence, Maya Rudolph as Senator Kamala Harris and Kate McKinnon as the moderator, Susan Page, who began the broadcast by declaring, “One thing is for sure: If anything’s going to be trending on Twitter tonight, it will be one of the humans involved in this debate.”
McKinnon pointed out that the candidates were protected by “buffet-style sneeze guards, on account of one of you works for Patient Zero,” she said.
Bennett explained that this was to his liking: “Twelve feet apart and separated by plexiglass is how Mother and I sleep,” he said.
There was some cross talk and aggressive interruptions between the candidates, and Rudolph explained the various facial expressions she planned to make while Bennett held forth. “I’d like to hear the Vice President’s response,” she began, “and while he speaks, I’m going to smile at him like I’m at a T.J. Maxx and a white lady asked me if I worked here.”
McKinnon inquired about the health of President Trump, explaining to Bennett that she was “asking with a simmering rage for his incompetence and a sadistic hope that he is not well.”
Bennett replied: “Unfortunately for you, then, the President is doing amazing, thanks to this team of terrified doctors. As you heard from his primary physician, Dr. Handsome Liar, Trump is in peak physical condition.”
Rudolph sipped comfortably from a martini glass and delivered a long, dribbling spit take when McKinnon asked for her position on packing the Supreme Court.
The scene then switched to the guest star Jim Carrey, in his new recurring role as former Vice President Joseph R Biden Jr., who was watching the debate from home with Heidi Gardner, playing Dr. Jill Biden.
Having decided that Rudolph needed his help, Carrey stepped into a David Cronenberg-style teleportation device, setting up an extended reference to that director’s remake of “The Fly,” in which Carrey was reduced to a winged insect.
Wandering around on a set meant to look like the top of Bennett’s head, Carrey — now in a fly costume — delivered a few impressions of Jeff Goldblum, who starred in “The Fly” and then encountered a second fly, played by Kenan Thompson.
Thompson explained who he was: “I’m Herman Cain, reincarnated as a damn fly,” he said. “And these fools, Trump and Pence, killed me, man.”
Opening Monologue of the Week
This weekend’s episode was hosted by the stand-up comic Bill Burr, and if you’re not familiar with his work, we’ll forewarn you that some people swear by him and others would rather swear at him.
Burr used his opening monologue to mock some sensitive topics — feel free to skip this section if you find that style of comedy distasteful — saying that it didn’t bother him if some people refused to wear masks during the pandemic: “Take out your grandparents,” Burr said. “Take out your weak cousin with the asthma. I don’t care. It’s your decision. There’s too many people. It’s a dream come true. If you’re that dumb and you want to kill your own family members, by all means do it. It stops you from reproducing.”
Burr went on to joke about the recent attack on the actor Rick Moranis and about white women, who he said had “hijacked the woke movement.” Addressing these women, Burr said: “You guys stood by us toxic white males through centuries of our crimes against humanity. You rolled around in the blood money, and occasionally when you wanted to sneak off and hook up with a Black dude, if you got caught, you said it wasn’t consensual.”
Burr also talked about Pride Month, wondering if it was “a little long, don’t you think, for a group of people that were never enslaved.” He added, “Black people were actually enslaved, they get February. They get 28 days of overcast weather.”
Weekend Update Jokes of the Week
At the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che were not particularly delicate as they riffed on President Trump’s return to the White House after he was hospitalized with Covid-19.
Jost began by saying:
This week was mental illness awareness week, and trust me [an image appears of President Trump taking off his mask on the White House balcony], we’re aware. President and active bio-weapon Donald Trump took his doctors hostage and broke out of the hospital like Sarah Connor in “Terminator 2.” And I guess he must have been in a coma and thought the year was 2016 because he started demanding Hillary’s emails and for the feds to arrest Obama. Then he released a series of odd videos from the White House that started like this: [a video plays of Trump saying, “Perhaps you recognize me, it’s your favorite president”]. Actually, I barely recognize you because your makeup artist seems to have given you the Dolezal. Also, why does it look like there’s a green screen behind you? It’s a little suspicious when you green-screen yourself into the place where you already are. It looks like you’re shooting a commercial for a Staten Island wedding venue.
President Trump claims to have survived the coronavirus. Yay. I’m not going to say I’m disappointed, but it kind of feels like when there’s a car crash and the only survivor is the drunk driver. Trump said him getting Covid was “a blessing from God,” and I bet even God was like, “Hey, we tried, guys.” Actually, maybe we should be more optimistic about this. There’s two ways we can look at it. Either Trump’s telling the truth and we finally have a cure for Covid. Or, Trump is lying and he’s still going to die. I’m not going to say that’s a win-win but it’s definitely not a lose-lose.
Deskside Bit of the Week
Speaking from the Weekend Update desk, Pete Davidson commented on the “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling, who has been rebuked by readers and stars of the “Harry Potter” films for making remarks that were criticized as anti-transgender.
Asked by Jost what he thought, Davidson replied:
I think I’m never getting another tattoo for the rest of my life. Don’t get tattoos. I got a Harry Potter tattoo years ago because I’m not psychic. I didn’t know J.K. Rowling was going to go all Mel Gibson on us. I have a “Game of Thrones” tattoo. Now I’m terrified one day George R.R. Martin’s just going to be like, “Hey, if you enjoy what I had to say about dragons and direwolves, wait till you hear what I think about Puerto Ricans!”
Eddie Van Halen Tribute of the Week
Jack White was not originally scheduled to be this weekend’s musical guest — that slot had originally been offered to the country musician Morgan Wallen, who had his offer rescinded on Wednesday after it was discovered that he had violated the show’s coronavirus protocols. Although White was a late addition to the “S.N.L.” lineup, he certainly made the most of his time and paid homage to Eddie Van Halen, the virtuoso rock guitarist who died on Tuesday.
In an Instagram post, White said that one of the guitars he played on “S.N.L.” had been designed by Van Halen. “eddie was very kind to me and saw to it that this guitar was made for me to my specs,” White wrote in the post. “i wont even insult the man’s talent by trying to play one of his songs tonight. thanks again eddie for this guitar and rest in peace sir.”
Near the end of the broadcast, “S.N.L.” also played footage from one of Van Halen’s past performances on the show.