The season finale of NBC’s Saturday Night Live – the last fresh episode until the show returns in the weeks before the presidential election – made room for two appearances by Sen. John McCain, and one filmed short featuring split-screen close-ups of Fred Armisen as Barack Obama and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. It completed the show’s presidential candidate trifecta, as the real Obama and Clinton had appeared on SNL earlier this season (Obama pre-strike, Clinton post-strike).
McCain’s first sketch was an address to the nation, in which he encouraged people to vote for him because he had the “oldness” necessary to become President. Later, he appeared on “Weekend Update” to encourage Clinton to stay in the race, to the Democratic convention – and, he suggested, even beyond.
“That would be crazy!” he said, then added, “Crazy exciting!”
And when “Update” anchors Poehler and Seth Meyers debated the wisdom of a continually divided Democratic party, McCain said, quietly but happily, “That’s right. Fight amongst yourselves.”
The split-screen close-up sketch was another strong one, with the left half of Poehler’s Clinton face paired with that of the right half of Armisen’s Obama, so that their lips met in the middle and they spoke as one. Except when they deviated to make their own asides about their own true motives and tactics. Very, very funny – as was an “Update” segment featuring Kenan Thompson as Al Sharpton and Darrell Hammond as Jesse Jackson. (This Sharpton described the Democratic battle as “a race race,” while the faux, rhyming Jackson noted, “You cannon erase your face!”)
The beginning and end of the season finale were noteworthy as well. The opening sketch, for the only time since the writers’ strike, was not political, and instead featured guest host Steve Carell, presiding over a commencement ceremony of rudely named graduates. And at the end, with everyone gathered on stage to wave goodbye, McCain, for the most part, was avoided rather than embraced by the SNL cast members.