Continuing a tradition almost as old as “Saturday Night Live” itself, Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders turned up on the program Saturday night to both be himself and face himself — or a reasonably accurate facsimile of himself.
Sanders appeared just before midnight, in a skit with host Larry David — playing a captain of a ship, or someone besides Sanders for a change. Sanders, a passenger, walked up to David, saying: “I am so sick of the 1 percent getting this preferential treatment — enough is enough!” Playing an immigrant coming to New York, Sanders then said his name was “Bernie Sanderswit sky, but I’ll change it when I get to New York so it doesn’t sound so Jewish.”
“Yeah,” said David. “That’ll fool ’em.”
The real Sanders then appeared with David after the commercial break: “So how’s it going in New Hampshire?” David asked.
Sanders, for a change mimicking David, said: “It’s pretty, pretty, pretty good.”
Meanwhile, Saturday night’s set-piece was basically an inversion of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” with Bernie Sanders — David, of course — as a sour candidate who refuses to shake hands, or fix a voter’s dislocated shoulder, who then learns he loses the New Hampshire primary by a couple of votes. (It featured impersonations of “Curb” regulars by “SNL” players, including Jay Pharoah’s version of “Curb’s” J.B. Smoove: “Bernie, I would shake the black woman’s hand . . . ”)
In his first “SNL” hosting appearance, David certainly played to character, a familiar one — dyspeptic, self-lacerating, and disinclined to hyperbole. “Now’s the part where I have to say we have a great show,” he said at the end of his monologue. “But why raise expectations. I should be saying, it’s so-so.”
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, the actor who portrayed J.B. Smoove was incorrect.