Did Scarlett Johansson Kick Off ‘SNL’s Insufferable Political Cameo Season?

‘SNL’ cast members can handle politics without Brad Pitt’s help
Did Scarlett Johansson Kick Off ‘SNL’s Insufferable Political Cameo Season?

Like stand-up comedy where every single thing is funny and doesn't waste your time? Follow Cracked Comedy Club on Instagram and YouTube for exactly that. 

Scarlett Johansson knocked it out of the park Saturday night with her dead-on impression of Alabama Senator Katie Britt. The Atlantic called the mockery “pitch perfect,” while The New York Times noted that Britt’s bizarre rebuttal to last week’s State of the Union made Johansson’s job an easy one.

The consensus on Twitter — at least non-MAGA Twitter — is that Johansson nailed it, with several users calling for an Emmy.

But aren’t there other comedians who deserve a shot at that Emmy? Are you telling me Sarah Sherman couldn’t have pulled off the scary mommy act? How about Heidi Gardner? Wasn’t Katie Britt an obvious Chloe Fineman masterpiece waiting to happen? Once again, Lorne Michaels’ love of stunt-casting, particularly during political season, threatens to steal screen time from cast members who already have trouble getting their turn.

During the first round of Joe Biden versus Donald Trump in 2020, SNL subjected viewers to a skull-numbing parade of celebs posing as politicos. The list included Jim Carrey, Jason Sudeikis and Woody Harrelson all masquerading as Biden, Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris, Alec Baldwin as Trump, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Julian Castro, Matthew Broderick as Mike Pompeo, Fred Armisen as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Jon Hamm as William B. Taylor, Armisen again as Michael Bloomberg, Rachel Dratch as Amy Klobuchar, James Corden as Boris Johnson, Jimmy Fallon as Justin Trudeau, Paul Rudd as Emmanuel Macron, Jon Lovitz as Alan Dershowitz and Brad Pitt as Anthony Fauci. 

Whew. Even typing up that list was exhausting. If COVID hadn’t placed restrictions on that season’s later shows, the roll call likely would have been longer. 

Some fans — okay, it was me — called for the good old days of Dan Aykroyd impersonating Jimmy Carter without bothering to shave his mustache, an era when cast members flexing their character chops was more important than the inevitable flurry of social media posts when a Brad Pitt stops by. 2020’s lazy cameo-fest relied more on “Look, that’s Jon Hamm!” surprise than clever punchlines. Worse, it deprived the show’s cast members of career-defining characters, like Dana Carvey’s George Bush the elder, Will Ferrell’s George Bush the son and Darrell Hammond’s Bill Clinton. 

Saturday Night Live’s political cold opens are regularly one of the show’s weakest segments, born out of an arrogance that believes America needs the show’s take on the week in politics, even if a given week offers up little satire-worthy news. But those sketches get worse when they’re stuffed with celebrity cameos. Obligatory applause breaks for each wig-covered entrance make the show seem smug and self-congratulatory. It’s tired.

Count me among the viewers who thought Johansson was hilarious last Saturday night. But if her appearance signals the start of Insufferable Political Cameo Season, I’ll cast my vote for more Chloe Fineman. 


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