Well, it looks like “SNL” has a landed on a replacement for Jim Carrey as Joe Biden. The new “SNL” Joe Biden is current cast member Alex Moffat.
OK so, if we can be real for a second, the Moffat-as-Biden introduction sketch was weird. Rather than a parody of something Joe Biden actually did or said in the last week, which would have been a natural way to introduce the new parody Biden, it focused on how Mike Pence, played by the always excellent Beck Bennett, received the COVID-19 vaccine.
But mid-way through, Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris came out to basically be the thing we always like when we see her, and to introduce Moffat as Biden. Moffat then strolled in for an extremely brief appearance, hardly more substantial than a cameo that tongue-in-cheek acknowledged the change in casting. And that was it.
See, Carrey played Biden in the first six back-to-back episodes of the current Season of “SNL.” But late Saturday morning, Carrey announced that his “term” playing Biden “was only meant to be 6 weeks,” and jokingly referred to himself as “just one in a long line of proud, fighting SNL Bidens!”
The timing felt pretty deliberate. What better way to get the HYPE going for a brand new Joe Biden than announce just hours before an episode aired that the old Joe Biden was bouncing. And yet, the Biden as seen in the cold open was at best an afterthought. Weird, right?
It’s worth noting that Carry’s all-over-the-map performance as the Democratic president-elect wasn’t that well received. He started out in a parody of the insane first presidential debate playing Biden as a sort of doddering weirdo. Then the next week during a parody of the sole vice presidential debate he basically did Biden as a combination of Ace Ventura and Jeff Goldblum. And the week after that, when parodying the dueling Biden and Trump town halls, he played the former VP as a gentle, rambling senile.
A whole lot of “SNL” viewers really didn’t like any of that, largely because of how little resemblance it had to the Biden people watched during the debates and town halls. So for Carrey’s fourth outing, a parody of the second and final presidential debate, he rolled out a total reboot. It wasn’t on the level of Woody Harrelson’s appearances as Biden on “SNL” last spring (or Jason Sudeikis), but it was an improvement.
For his final two appearances — the show immediately before the election, and the one immediately after Biden was declared the winner by all major media outlets — Carrey’s performance combined the reboot with a bit of his Ace Ventura-isms. It didn’t really stake out a particular point of view or nail anything especially relevant to what was going on in the world.
Moffat is expected to be the official Joe Biden going forward — but we barely got a look at him in the role before he was out of the scene, so we really can’t judge him one way or the other. (We are big fans of him generally.) But certainly, selecting an existing cast member will save “SNL” many inconveniences, since they don’t have to pay someone to come out every few episodes and play Biden.
Still, it came as a surprise to wishful thinkers, given that some people expected either another stunt cast like Jim Carrey — don’t forget that last season, both Woody Harrelson and John Mulaney played Biden at different points — or the return of Jason Sudeikis, who famously played Joe Biden for the Obama years and appeared in the fall of 2019 during a parody of the Democratic debates.
Now it’s the Moffat era, and you can watch his debut as Biden above.
Kristen Wiig was Saturday’s host, Dua Lipa was musical guest.