Saturday Night Live returned last night for the first show of the Joe Biden administration without a Joe Biden. That’d be troubling if the game but unmemorable Jim Carrey’s guest stint as then-candidate Biden were better than the sloppy, wig-topped thing Alec Baldwin trotted out whenever he felt like working over the last five years of Saturdays. No, SNL hasn’t cast a Joe, Maya Rudolph’s Vice President Kamala Harris is back being amazing at everything, and so the traditional SNL political cold open was—unlike us for the first time as a nation in four years—leaderless.
Or at least fake president-less. In stead, we were welcomed back to Season 46 by the estimable Kate McKinnon, who proved you don’t need hours in the makeup chair and a mediocre impression to kick off an episode right. Sitting down as herself for a talk show she called What Still Works?, the SNL all-star and occasional ghostbuster calmly announced her intention to interview a selection of public figures to determine just what—if anything—is still functional after a year of pandemic lockdown, a GOP-abetted white supremacist failed coup, and what the hell 4chan is doing to Game Stop and/or the stock market.
Calm though she was, McKinnon had the barest hint of restrained madness in her eyes as she interviewed her first guest, the hard-to-believe actual, elected Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, played by Cecily Strong. (Call Greene the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Elected As A Party.) “Gun?,” Strong’s QAnon-cuckoo congresswoman offered offhandedly, with McKinnon refusing the, again, actual elected American lawmaker’s firearm, before noting that just saying “Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene” is probably enough proof that, yeah, government is not working. You know, since, as McKinnon gingerly brought up, Greene is on the record as believing that 9/11 was a hoax, the Parkland mass shooting where 17 people (including 14 schoolchildren) died was a hoax, the Clintons murder human babies, and that the recent California wildfires were caused by—and nobody’s making up a single thing here—“Jewish space lasers.” Oh, and she also confirmed that she said that Nancy Pelosi should be murdered. “She’s this lady I work with,” hand-waved Strong’s Greene about the Democratic Speaker of the House.
McKinnon soldiered on, once more breathing deeply and simply letting the self-owns pile up around her uncomprehending guest. (She didn’t mention Greene’s enthusiastic support of the violent coup attempt by white supremacist terrorists on January 6 as stated in an interview with fellow white supremacist Katie Hopkins, but it’s only a 9-minute sketch.) As McKinnon’s shown throughout the last, blighted year of pandemic panic and political, um, panic, sometimes simply leaning into the madness is the only way to survive. McKinnon also mock-interviewed the likes of Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, a day-trading stock wizard named Derrick Boner, host John Krasinski as Tom Brady, and a somehow already-vaccinated O.J. Simpson, played as ever by Kenan Thompson. But it was the Greene interview that’ll get all the press as McKinnon asked her first guest if her Republican colleagues have had any response to all the “hateful and psychotic things” she’s said. Strong’s Greene responded smugly, “I was promoted, to the Education Committee.” Signing off, McKinnon could only advise viewers to take her example, speak softly and calmly, and stay strong. “Or weak,” she added, shrugging helplessly, “Weak is a great option, too.”