SNL Vice Presidential Debate: Christina Applegate Hosts the Joe Biden Paul Ryan Comedy Showdown

As is the case nearly every election season Saturday Night Live election sketches have become must-see TV. This is not our parents Saturday Night Live where sketches were viewed in real time between 11:30 pm and 1 am on a Saturday night. This is next generation SNL where the most successful sketches of the show are determined by which are shared the most the next day and throughout the following week. Last week's episode had two top contending sketches vying for the best of the evening. The first was the cold open mocking President Obama's detached appearance at the first presidential debate, the second was Big Bird's cameo on the show's weekly news spoof brief "Weekend Update." As this Saturday night approaches, audiences are already gearing up for what the show's writers will do with the explosively entertaining vice presidential debate that took place Thursday night.



Journalists and political commentators began hypothesizing about how SNL would treat the debate almost immediately after it ended. With Joe Biden's constant laughter and Paul Ryan mystified look and water guzzling, audiences are ready for the late-night take. As Politico's Mike Allen wrote of the debate, "The buzz in the hall and online was all about Biden's looks in the cutaway shots as Ryan talked: grinning, grimacing, glancing heavenward, throwing up his hands, rolling his eyes, tossing his head. Saturday Night Live, here we come.

Neil Newhouse, who oversees survey work for the Romney campaign, also cited SNL in his post debate re-cap. Newhouse said, "I think what's really interesting ... is what's Saturday Night Live going to do with that debate? How are they going to portray Joe Biden? I think his mannerisms, his smiling, his smirks, his condescension, I think, of Congressman Ryan is going to be the lasting impression voters have of that debate." 

A New York Times piece on the writing that goes into these sketches illuminated just how difficult creating the week's material can be. The article honed in on one of the show's head writers, Seth Meyers, as he watched the first presidential debate with "increasing concern." Meyers said of the debate, "It's boring enough when they're talking about all this and how it will affect Americans, but when you're sitting there trying to pull comedy out of it, it's really bad. There were people on Twitter saying: 'You must be really happy, there's so much in this debate. This is writing itself.' I was like: what debate are you watching?"

As for the vice presidential debate, thanks to Biden's laughing this time it really may have written itself. SNL cast member Jason Sudeikis has the task of bringing this hilarity to light, and Taran Killam will play Congressman Paul Ryan. 


As the SNL countdown begins, audiences are waiting to see just what will be done with this political moment. And how the comedy minds behind the late night show viewed the debate that the whole country is still talking about. 

Saturday Night Live airs at 11:30 p.m. on NBC. The show's host is Christina Applegate with musical guest Passion Pit. 


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Elena Sheppard

Elena is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Mic. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Time Out New York, The New York Times Upfront, ABC News, and various travel publications. She is also a Princeton alum, a former Thailand resident, and a Brooklyn native.

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