Saturday Night Live's newest cold open took on not one but two of the most pressing topics in America right now: the swelling impact of the coronavirus and the latest Democratic primary in South Carolina. The segment started by lampooning the Trump Administration's controversial public response to COVID-19, which included naming Vice President Mike Pence (portrayed by Beck Bennett in the sketch) as head of the crisis response team.
"Most of you know me from the sentence, 'Even if Trump was removed, we'd still be stuck with Mike Pence,'" NotPence said to introduce himself. "Trump has put me in charge of the coronavirus, even though I don't believe in science. And I have to admit, this disease has been a test of my faith, just like dinosaur bones or Timothee Chalamet. But I'm prepared for the challenge. We've assembled a very experienced team of the best people left in government."
He then welcomed Dr. Ben Carson (Kenan Thompson) to offer up some medical perspective on the matter, despite his official cabinet position being the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. "Well, this is something I actually do know about and rest assured, in my opinion, it's going to be bad," Faux Carson admitted.
Despite the fake veep's insistence that this press conference not become politicized, presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg (Fred Armisen) then showed up in the crowd, mimicking his upcoming Super Tuesday ad campaign by asking, "Doesn't it seem like a good time to have a president who's competent and capable, even if that candidate lacks charisma or the ability to connect with human beings?"
But SNL Bloomberg, like the real deal in the last two debates, had his own problems to contend with, once Senator Elizabeth Warren (Kate McKinnon) showed up to take him to task again. "Did you really think you were going to get away from me that easily? That's my job now. I follow you around and make your life a living hell. I might be fifth in the polls, but I'm number on in your nightmares," she teased.
The mention of polling was a great segue for Joe Biden (this time, played by SNL's host of the week, John Mulaney) to show up in his South Carolina victory sash and declare, "Speaking of number one, guess who just kicked butt in South Cracker Barrel!" He then went on to tell a story about a time when he and Nelson Mandela spent some time together in South Africa "Green Book-style" and engaged in some hand-to-hand combat with the ebola monkey, alluding to his fighting style as some "beep bop bip" action.
There were also some other candidates who popped into the cold open to have their say, including Bernie Sanders (Larry David), who insisted, "I had a little setback in South Carolina, but I'm ahead in the polls. Wall Street billionaires are losing their shirts, and best of all, nobody wants to come near me, much less touch me. I'm in heaven!"
Mayor Pete (Colin Jost) and Amy Klobuchar (Rachel Dratch) also dropped in to tussle over their current status in the race, with Play Amy snapping, "The whole moderate from the midwest schtick is mine. So, stay outta my center lane bitch. I'm from Minnesota, so I will cut you ... in line at Target, son."
And after NotWarren ran through the laundry list of her gripes with Bloomberg -- "he supported Lindsey Graham, he funded SARS, he invented traffic," among them -- Pretend Sanders took a shot at the candidate's recent controversial remarks about certain dictators, saying, "I might get in trouble for saying this, but you know who was great at washing his hands? Joseph Stalin."
Considering the results of the Democratic primary in South Carolina came along just hours before Saturday Night Live's airing, this was certainly a thorough response to the news -- although, to be fair, many of the polls leading up to Saturday night's results predicted Biden's win in the Palmetto State and probably gave them all a head start on the material.
"Weekend Update" also dug into Donald Trump's coronavirus response, with Colin Jost saying, "Donald Trump is the worst person to possibly ease people's fears. Trump's whole thing is that he whips arenas into a frenzy of anger and bloodlust. Hoping Trump can calm people down is like hoping cocaine can fight insomnia."
After Michael Che went off on a hilarious tangent about how he didn't want to make fun of the coronavirus, just in case he has it, Jost chimed back in to say, "The stock market this week posted its largest point loss in history, which a lot of people are now referring to as the 'Trump Slump,' and by a lot of people, I mean me. The same way when Trump says 'a lot of people are saying' something, he just means he is. So, now all these people are coming up and saying Trump Slump, and everybody's is talking about this Trump Slump and how there's a Trump Slump, and I can't even talk about Trump Slump without someone coming up and being like, 'how about this Trump Slump?' Anyway, that's the economy."
Armed with a cocktail, Che then weighed in to say, "I mean, how could this possibly end well for us? Trump put Mike Pence in charge. Mike Pence! I don't know what Mike Pence's plan is, but it's probably the same as that guy who had to get Evian water for Fyre Fest."
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.