We knew Sen. John McCain would be appearing on SNL last night because the McCain campaign told us so, so no secret there. Anyone questioning the Republican presidential nominee’s wisdom should remember three things: 1) McCain has done SNL before and even hosted the show in 2002, 2) McCain also has had a reputation since his gregarious Navy youth as a guy looking to have a good time and make a joke, and 3) since he is down in the polls and his campaign is desperate, why not? It could not possibly hurt, only help his cause in the final few days before the election. Which brings us to the cold open, which features McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (once again played by Tina Fey), hawking collectibles on the QVC network because that’s the only channel they could afford the airtime. Cindy McCain makes a cameo, too, as her hubby sells McCain Fine Gold (get it?). Fey wins the sketch, though, with her "rogue" sales of "Palin 2012" t-shirts, exclaiming she’s not going anywhere: "I’m either running in four years or I’m going to be a white Oprah!" (McCain will appear again later on Weekend Update) Oh, and again, as a reminder, if you cannot watch Hulu, you can catch SNL videos on the NBC site. And yes, I noted the color-coded curtains.
It’s the first full SNL since Amy Poehler left the cast, though she remains in the credits. If you were hoping this would finally give "featured" cast member Casey Wilson a chance to break out into her own, well, spoiler alert, because Wilson’s shot will have to wait at least two more weeks. Tonight’s program doesn’t have much for her to do, nor for Andy Samberg, Bobby Moynihan, Bill Hader, nor even Darrell Hammond. This show is the first SNL in a long time that really showcases its host: Ben Affleck. Affleck’s monologue is short and sweet, noting his political activism for the Democrats hasn’t always worked out, so he’s publicly endorsing McCain!
Our ad spoof brings back "Jar Glove," which deftly pokes fun at how infomercials open by showing how difficult the easiest tasks must be for you to need their products.
A spoof of ABC’s The View shows Kenan Thompson as Whoopi Goldberg, Fred Armisen as Joy Behar, Kristen Wiig as Elisabeth Hasselbeck. No Babs Walters. No Sherri Shepherd. Casey Wilson appears as guest co-host Jennifer Aniston. But the funny lines all go to the men in this sketch, including Affleck as a fairly good representation of Alec Baldwin (though when they announced Baldwin, I’m sure more than a few people thought the actual Baldwin brother would make another cameo as he is a frequent SNL host himself).
If that sketch didn’t cement this as Affleck’s show, the next sketch would, as Affleck gets the run of the program for more than eight minutes spoofing MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Affleck is clearly enjoying himself and willing to do whatever he can for laughs — and also, perhaps, to remind us that he does have some acting chops still. And a Romney joke, most certainly just for him.
In the ad break that follows, we get sneak peeks at two things we were beginning to suspect we wouldn’t see, in Tom Cruise’s new Valkyrie movie and Axl Rose’s long-awaited GnR album, Chinese Democracy. Just in case you zipped past the ads, you might want to take another peek!
Wiig’s Target Lady is back, but this time, the show again lets Affleck take over as a creepy pervy UPS guy who wants to get it on with the Target Lady. "Oh, no. It looks like I’m next. Can you handle me?"
The Staten Island Zoo has a message for you, courtesy of Jason Sudeikis and a video on giraffes. This is, in effect, your SNL Digital Short for the evening. Who knew giraffes were so hardcore? UPDATED! Now with video, thanks Videogum! And now NBC has followed suit.
David Cook, in his first song, has a power rock ballad for you to Idol-ize.
Weekend Update, again with Seth Meyers going solo on the anchor desk. He gets help from McCain, who offers his last-minute campaign strategies, Dr. Patrick and Gunther Kelly (Will Forte and Fred Armisen) with a silly song to explain voting machines! And Wiig as Amy’s Aunt Linda with reviews of the new fall TV shows. "Gah!"
After the break, it’s a middle-aged take on "High School Musical" — "Night School Musical" — with Samberg, Wilson, Wiig, Forte, Hammond as the principal and Affleck as the new guy. It must be the final half-hour of the show.
Grady Wilson’s lovemaking tips for adults gives Kenan Thompson his own live sketch/video hybrid opportunity to act like a goof.
There is a Hollywood studio pitch meeting with brothers David and Stefan (Affleck and Bill Hader, in Hader’s only onscreen role tonight), with Affleck playing it straight and Hader going all gay and artsy on us. Sudeikis and Samberg play the studio execs. It’s, well, killing time.
David Cook is back with another rock ballad, sort of, that you’ll hear on the radio a lot.
The final sketch of the night goes to…Armisen and Affleck as the Bierhoff Bros., house of German coats, with a special "Times Square" coat with lots of pockets for all of those German tourists and their families to look alike and gawk in New York City. It’ll make you laugh more if you live here. Or if you’ve visited NYC in recent years and had enough perspective to see how the Euro-tourists react to the Big Apple.
Here’s some bonus backstage footage with John and Cindy McCain, in which McCain said being on SNL humanizes you as a politician:
And that’s a wrap. See you Monday for a special two-hour primetime "Presidential Bash" SNL with sketches from the past and perhaps one or two new things. Then it’s Nov. 15 for the next new SNL, Paul Rudd hosting with Beyonce.