Sunday, September 16, 2012

'Saturday Night Live' skewers Obama, Romney, Eastwood - Orlando Sentinel (blog)

“Saturday Night Live” installed a new Barack Obama and a new attitude this weekend. Jay Pharoah succeeded Fred Armisen in playing the president, and the NBC series took sharper digs at the president.

In the first-rate opening sketch, a drawling Obama (Pharoah) acknowledged that ”things aren’t great,” that he is aloof and overconfident, and that the country has a “Sanford and Son” economy because so many children live with their parents. 

But Obama unveiled his campaign’s secret weapon: a gaffe-prone Mitt Romney (Jason Sudeikis). “Wouldn’t you be overconfident if your only competition was this?” Obama asked. Obama also pointed to budget guru Paul Ryan (Taran Killam), who had trouble with numbers.

The political jokes were most memorable as the show started its 38th season. An over-the-top Obama commercial â€" the president said he wasn’t real proud of it â€" relentlessly skewered inconsiderate Romney for closing businesses and even spreading disease.

On “Weekend Update,” Seth Meyers noted Obama had joked that Bill Clinton “should be appointed to the role of secretary of explaning stuff.” Meyer added: “Hey, you know what’s another good name for that position? President.”  (“SNL” offers a prime-time political special at 8 p.m. Thursday on NBC.)

Another commercial presented Clint Eastwood (Bill Hader) going on the road with his Republican National Convention act and that empty chair.  ”It’s a show that audiences are giving a sitting ovation,” a commercial spokesman said.

The other material was stronger than usual. “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane got in the loopy spirit with a bravura opening monologue in which he performed a range of voices. MacFarlane was a dense Ryan Lochte previewing the fall TV season. MacFarlane was a sports store worker who brought on Korean rap sensation Psy to lift spirits. MacFarlane was a cheerful puppeteer working with a military veteran (Hader again) whose puppet smoked. MacFarlane threw himself into the role of a stuttering drill sergeant.

Television, as usual, inspired several sketches. “SNL” brought back the nasty producer (Armisen) who insulted guests on “Sex After 50″ and spoofed daytime host Steve Harvey (Kenan Thompson), who made over a guest (MacFarlane) to look just like Harvey. Honey Boo Boo (Vanessa Bayer) and her mother (Bobby Moynihan) visited “Weekend Update,” where their talk was subtitled.

Frank Ocean performed two songs, and John Mayer supplied a guitar solo on the second. All in all, it was a promising start for “SNL,” and the political season should be the gift that keeps giving through the fall.

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