Jason Sudeikis returns as the ‘fun’ Joe Biden on ‘SNL’

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Jason Sudeikis is back in the building, and he brought Joe Biden with him. The former Not-Ready-for- Primetime-Player-turned-beloved-(fictional)-soccer-coach returned to Saturday Night Live for his first hosting gig since departing Studio 8H in 2013. And the Ted Lasso star wasted little time reprising one of his most popular characters from his decade-long tenure in the SNL cast. 

The cold open featured Sudeikis’s vintage Joe Biden coming face-to-face with current Joe Biden, played by James Austin Johnson. And the difference between the two was stark. “You seem so happy, so carefree,” Johnson’s POTUS told his fun-loving counterpart. “So… what’s the word I’m looking for?” “Lucid,” Sudeikis’s Biden replied without missing a beat.

Former Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) meets current Joe Biden (James Austin Johnson) on Saturday Night Live (Photo: NBC/Twitter)

Former Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) meets current Joe Biden (James Austin Johnson) on Saturday Night Live. (Photo: NBC/Twitter)

It’s no accident that Biden 1.0 entered with such swagger. After all, he eternally exists in 2013, when the current POTUS was still the Veep and he and President Barack Obama were riding high in approval polls. “Easiest gig in the world,” he told his eight-years-older self. “We’re like America’s wacky neighbor. Just pop in with an ice cream cone, aviator shades, some finger guns… shake a few hands, rub a few shoulders.” 

That’s when Biden 2.0 gave his “ancestor” a crash course in certain 2021 realities. “You can’t do that anymore,” he told Biden 1.0 about his penchant for shoulder rubs and handshakes, not to mention hair-sniffing. “Which one?” Sudeikis asked. “Weirdly both,” Johnson answered with resignation. 

Biden 2.0 then proceeded to catch Biden 1.0 up on some of the other things that occurred during the eight-year time gap between them. “The last president ruined everything,” he complained. “They hung out with porn stars, they served McDonald’s at the White House, got into a fight with the pope.” Biden 1.0 naturally reacted with amazement: “Wow, Hillary got awesome!”

Biden 1.0 also brushed off his 2021 counterpart’s criticisms of certain congressional Democrats who have complicated his presidential agenda. What to do about Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, for example? “The only ‘Manchin’ I care about is the Playboy Mansion,” Sudeikis exclaimed. “That’s classic 2013 Biden right there!” How about Senator Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona? “That sounds like a Star Wars character.” 

Twitter was largely overjoyed with the Big 2013 Energy that Sudeikis brought to SNL‘s Oval Office. 

Not content with simply putting Biden 1.0 and Biden 2.0 together on the same stage, the SNL writers also made room for Biden 1.5. No, not Jim Carrey — Alex Moffat briefly reprised his ultra-brief tenure as the POTUS circa early 2021 in the closing moments of the cold open. “You need anything?” he asked the other Bidens before making a fast exit. 

Sudeikis took Moffat’s departure as his own cue to “mosey back to 2013.” But before departing, he left his descendent with some words of wisdom: “I want you to stand tall and flash those 100 percent natural choppers we got. And remember, we may be from different eras, but at the end of the day, we’re both Joe freakin’ Biden!” 

As happy as SNL fans were to see Sudeikis back in the White House, the cold open did have its critics. Some viewers objected to the way it characterized the Biden presidency, while others noted how Johnson’s divisive take on Biden seemed extra-lacking when standing next to his predecessor. 

Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m.

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About the Author: Oisin Ohthere