SNL: A New Season, a New Obama

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SNL has never been shy about skewering politics and with last night's season premiere, it came out swinging. The cold open was as aggressively political (and hilarious) as the show has ever been, introducing a new performer as President Obama and satirizing the current presidential race.

The sketch begins with a meta-joke for fans in the know: Fred Armisen stands behind a podium to introduce the President and off-handedly remarks "Wouldn't want his job, right?" Armisen, after all, has played Barack Obama on SNL for the past four years. Then his replacement takes the stage and, with all due respect to Mr. Armisen, we don't miss him in the role.

Already known for his insanely good Denzel Washington impression, Jay Pharoah's Obama impersonation is borderline perfect, nailing everything about his voice and body language. Although Armisen has always been passable when he played the President, Pharoah may be able to elevate it to Will-Ferrell-as-George-Bush levels of good.

The rest of the sketch skewers the showdown between Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney (played here by a returning Jason Sudeikis). Although SNL is a comedy variety show, it's also a major tastemaker with a surprisingly wide range of influence. Remember the impact that Tina Fey's Sarah Palin had on the American public? Can SNL be trying to repeat that?

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