News & Politics

Jim Carrey Is SNL’s New Joe Biden. Here’s How the Show Used to Skewer the Ex-Veep

Joe Biden. Photograph by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

Jim Carrey will play Joe Biden on SNL this fall, show creator Lorne Michaels revealed to Vulture today, answering one of the biggest questions the upcoming season—beyond how the show would handle the challenge of performing in a pandemic. Though SNL comedians have been playing Biden for years, his Obama-era impersonator Jason Sudeikis left the show in 2013, and Michaels has been searching for his next Malarkey Man to rely on as the presidential election nears. Most recently during the primary, Biden was played in cameos by John Mulaney and Woody Harrelson, and, again, by Sudeikis. What were some of the funniest takes on the former vice president? Here’s a few highlights.

The “Coronavirus Cold Open” sketch (February 2020)

Despite having a notorious baby face, John Mulaney’s Biden comes in strong with pageant sash that reads “South Carolina” to gloat about his primary victory in the state. “Guess who just kicked butt in South Cracker Barrel,” says Mulaney.

The “Vice Presidential Debate Cold Open” (October 2012)

Sudeikis is at his prime when he goes toe-to-toe with Taran Killam’s Paul Ryan in this debate sketch. He’s had years to perfect the tough-Biden act. “You think you’re tougher than me cause you do the P90X workout, because you’re younger than me?” Sudeikis says. “Well let me tell you something buddy: there’s gym strong and then there’s old man strong. You want to know my work out? When the Amtrak breaks down on my morning commute, I strip down to my tighty-whities, I push that bitch all the way to Washington.”

The “DNC Town Hall” sketch (September 2019)

Woody Harrelson’s creepy-teethed Biden was an evolution in the SNL impersonation, better illustrating Biden’s less-than-charming and sometimes entitled attitude during the primary. “Look, I’m like plastic straws,” says Harrelson. “I’ve been around forever, I’ve always worked, but now you’re mad at me?”

Don’t forget Biden’s first “Cold Opening” (October 1991)

Kevin Nealon first played Biden on SNL back in 1991 in the superpopular “Clarence Thomas Pickup Technique” sketch based on the Supreme Court Justice’s confirmation hearing. Nealon leads the panel of senators, including Dana Carvey’s Strom Thurmond, into asking Thomas, played by Tim Meadows, for some dating advice.

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Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.

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