WATCH: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Parodies Trump & Biden’s Dueling Town Halls
The town halls were in competition because they aired simultaneously, which the skit parodies through its voice-over and “flipping” between NBC and ABC. ABC aired Biden’s town hall, and had planned to in advance of NBC’s decision to air Trump’s town hall.
The skit opened on a voice-over introduction, which already briefly compares the two town halls.
“One town hall was a thoughtful, cogent discussion of the issues facing our country,” the narration promises. “The other featured President Trump.” It also refers to Biden’s town hall as a “Hallmark movie,” while calling Trump’s an “alien autopsy.”
Biden’s town hall is up first, and the host George Stephanopoulos (Mikey Day) announces the “vibe” of the town hall, joking about its sparse physical attendance, its lack of hard questions, and the distance between Biden and his audience. The actual town hall, it should be noted, was the better attended of the two, attracting 14.1 million viewers against Trump’s 11 million. Jim Carrey then enters as Biden, spoofing Biden’s focus on pandering to the audience and joking that Biden is senile, unable to locate audience members who asked him questions or directly speak to what they asked.
Then, the channel changes, and host Savannah Guthrie (Kate McKinnon) begins the Trump town hall by showing off her obvious disdain for the president, and immediately grilling him on white supremacy and a recent retweet of his saying Osama Bin Laden was still alive.
“We have lots of voters waiting to ask questions, but I’d like to start by tearing you a new one,” McKinnon, as Guthrie, precedes her questions.
Trump, once again portrayed by Alec Baldwin, dismisses every one.
“I’ve always more or less condemned it,” Trump says of white supremacy. He then claims he knows nothing about QAnon, the Aryan Brotherhood, or the KKK. Mimicking his answer when asked about the same topic at the first presidential debate, he tells “crazy uncles” who support him at home to “stand back and stand by.”
There’s a quick cut back to the Biden town hall, and Biden is shown still rambling about an irrelevant topic.
Guthrie tries to ask Trump about his COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, and Trump primarily dodges the questions, but also indirectly suggests that he has lost a lung, almost died, and even met the devil. An audience member portrayed by Chloe Fineman comes up to compliment Trump’s smile, and calls him handsome. The scene was barely a parody, and paraphrased from the actual Paulette Dale, who very similarly complimented him before asking about immigration.
There’s another quick cut to Biden, who is rambling again, this time to God.
Trump evades a question about taxes by talking about a V-shaped recovery from COVID, and then takes another audience question. The focus is not on the question or the response, but by another audience member sitting behind Trump, who dances around behind Trump as he evades talking about abortion or the reasons he hired Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The audience member is a spoof of an audience member dubbed the “bobble head” by Twitter, who enthustiastically nodded at all of Trump’s statements and shook her head at all of Guthrie’s interjections. When Maya Rudolph appears as Kamala Harris to ask her about it, the audience member pointedly ignores her and continues to dance.
Biden is then shown dressing up and singing in the style of Mr. Rogers, the famous host of a preschool television show.
The channel flips to Trump and Guthrie, now wrestling, and Guthrie knocks him out with a chair.
Flipping back to Biden, he is now dressed up and painting as Bob Ross, again saying something presumably irrelevant. Closing statements begin, and Biden promises to have a smooth, mostly scandal-free time in office if elected.
Trump tries to rally audience support, but when he doesn’t receive it, threatens a non-peaceful transition of power, and that is the note the skit ends on.
On Twitter, most users did not appreciate the skit. Carrey’s senile portrayal of Biden is wildly unpopular, especially among largely liberal SNL fans, and many who watched both the real and parodied debate found SNL‘s version of it to be inaccurate at best.
Literally the only way you could both-sides the town halls is to invent a version of the Biden one that is at complete odds with what actually fucking happened. And that's what SNL is doing!
— Ross A. Lincoln (@Rossalincoln) October 18, 2020
Ummmm… no. Sudeikis did a great job of mocking Biden. So did Amy Poehler when she played Hillary. They poked fun at their weaknesses in a smart way. The problem with Jim Carrey as Joe Biden is that he only seems interested in playing Jim Carrey. It just doesn't work. https://t.co/9Jf0x23jk3
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) October 19, 2020
Let’s talk about Jim Carey’s Biden Character on SNL. He’s a staunch anti-trump guy, why does he make Biden seem confused … Biden is sharp as a tack.
Now, talking too long may have a grain of truth.
What do you like or NOT like about the Carey/Biden character?
— True Blue (@sherylvickerskc) October 18, 2020
People had less to say about Baldwin’s popular portrayal of Trump, but very much appreciated SNL‘s inclusion of comedic – but accurate – details of the actual town hall.
thank god SNL used that moment of the woman behind trump cause that was hysterical. pic.twitter.com/N2sqtwrfbS
— Clint Maddox Thompson (@clintmthompson) October 19, 2020
— CyclopsIsBetterThanWolverine (@Krakoan4Life) October 18, 2020
Additionally, though Carey’s Biden may have been inaccurate, as a means of comparison between the candidates, fans seem to think that SNL’s casting may have partially worked.
The actual Trump town hall was way crazier than the SNL version. The Biden town hall was less crazy than the SNL version.
— Bob Cesca (@bobcesca_go) October 18, 2020
#SNL It seems they are really doing a good job contrasting the calm nature of the Biden town hall compared to the Trump town hall's chaotic nature.
— Spinellio (@CartoonsExist) October 18, 2020