Ever since the election of Donald Trump, the cold open of “Saturday Night Live” thrives on star power. Cameos from Alec Baldwin, Robert De Niro, the celebrity-shaped revolving door that is Joe Biden — all are built for the shape-shifting chaos of the current political climate. But for the last episode prior to a spring-forward time change, SNL seemed content to tuck in early with a fairly rote Fox News spoof.
And then Elizabeth Warren showed up.
Presidential candidate appearances are something of a tradition now on SNL, including a controversial stint as host by then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. But before Warren, who ended her campaign this past week, could appear, the week’s episode began with Kate McKinnon, who has portrayed Warren on SNL in debates but here was on duty as pundit Laura Ingraham, or “the Joey Fatone of Fox News.”
Mocking Fox News’ skewed perspective has been a TV comedy fixture since Jon Stewart was hosting “The Daily Show,” and SNL got its digs in. McKinnon’s Ingraham played off the network’s dismissive outlook on the ongoing coronavirus crisis (sample greater concerns: “women who keep their maiden names” and “black marching bands”) before introducing Cecily Strong as Fox’s Judge Jeanine Pirro and Mikey Day and Alex Moffat reprising their Eric and Donald Trump, Jr., who parroted one another along with presidential talking points.
“It’s like our dad always says,” Day’s Trump Jr. began before Moffat’s Eric interjected. “The N-word?”
“No, only during songs, buddy,” his brother warned.
SNL vet (and current announcer) Darrell Hammond then turned up as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in reference to the pundit’s recent retirement, which came after controversial remarks he made to a guest. Hammond nailed Matthews’ abrupt laugh, and McKinnon’s Ingraham offered encouragement: “Chris, you can say whatever you want, it’s Fox,” she said.
Ingraham then turned to Warren, who was introduced as “having savagely murdered Mike Bloomberg’s campaign.” But rather than introducing a TV paradox of MicKinnon portraying two roles, the sketch turned to check in on the real-life former candidate.
“I’m doing just fine,” Warren assured Ingraham. “My friends and family have been so supportive. They’ve been calling nonstop, asking are you okay? What do you need? Were you electable?”
McKinnon’s Ingraham then offered a clip of Warren’s notable debate appearance where she confronted Bloomberg about his nondisclosure agreements, which was encapsulated in footage of a dog eating a burrito.
“Were you the dog or the burrito?” Ingraham asked.
“I was the dog,” Warren said.
The sketch went on to address speculation around former candidate Warren’s pending endorsement of candidates Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden (“Maybe I’ll just pull a New York Times and endorse them both,” Warren said).
The Massachusetts senator then expressed pride for her campaign’s efforts, including giving a billionaire “a swirly on live TV” before describing a regimen of recent self-care that included “crank-calling big banks” and “drag-racing Subarus.”
McKinnon herself broke the sketch with a reprisal of her role as Warren.
“I want to put on my favorite outfit and thank you for all that you’ve done in your life,” McKinnon told her.
“I’m not dead,” Warren reminded her. “I’m just in the Senate.”