The fractured Democratic party struggled to come together in the cold open of Saturday Night Live’s 47th season, with new featured player James Austin Johnson taking over the role of President Joe Biden.
Up until his SNL debut as Biden, Johnson was known for his impersonation of Donald Trump. In the cold open, he played the current president as an avuncular, soft-spoken train enthusiast, in contrast to the outrageous, toothy caricatures offered by past Joes Jason Sudeikis and Jim Carrey.
Johnson’s take was as innocuous as the real-life Biden, at one point comparing himself to an oil change: “You try not to think of me until you absolutely have to.”
It was Aidy Bryant as Joe Manchin who carried the open, leaning into the West Virginia senator’s stubborn opposition to Biden’s infrastructure agenda. At one point, Bryant’s Manchin hoped for more children to become coal miners — “We need their tiny hands to dig!” — and lit up at the mention of roads: “Roads are where trucks live.”
“I want no roads,” Cecily Strong’s Kyrsten Sinema responded. Why? “Chaos.”
Pete Davidson reprised his impersonation of handsy New York governor Andrew Cuomo, comparing the Democrats to “one big Italian family” who “hug and kiss and run their fingers up each other’s backs.”
“Fundamentally, we’re all the same,” Biden said, to which Cuomo replied: “Screwed.”
Owen Wilson hosted the season premiere with Kacey Musgraves as musical guest.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) October 3, 2021