Who Should Replace Jim Carrey as Joe Biden on SNL?
Lorne Michaels and the team at “Saturday Night Live” have an important, four-year commitment to make now that Carrey is out. Here’s who we think has what it takes.
On Saturday, Jim Carrey announced that his Saturday Night Live tenure as Joe Biden had come to an abrupt end. “Though my term was only meant to be 6 weeks, I was thrilled to be elected as your SNL President… comedy’s highest call of duty,” he wrote on Twitter. “I would love to go forward knowing that Biden was the victor because I nailed that shit. But I am just one in a long line of proud, fighting SNL Bidens!”
With all due respect to Carrey, one of the most talented physical comedians ever, his manic energy was never right for the sedate, slightly creepy Biden. This wasn’t a job for Fire Marshall Bill but Maverick—a cocksure, grinning-and-winking fella in aviator shades prone to the occasional tone-deaf outburst, or weird anecdote, or too-close-for-comfort embrace. The actor who donned the shades prior to Carrey, Jason Sudeikis, did a fine job capturing the all-American car salesman-y essence of Biden, a guy whose Twitter bio reads: “Loves ice cream, aviators & @amtrak.” (That set of big, impossibly white chompers was a nice touch.)
It was also a bit odd to see Carrey play the pro-science foil to Alec Baldwin’s COVID-ignoring Trump given the fact that he is Hollywood’s biggest anti-vaxxer. As I wrote in October, “To see Carrey cosplay as a paragon of medical responsibility, even uttering the words, ‘I believe in science,’ struck a discordant note, to say the least.” With health professionals around the globe administering doses of the COVID vaccine, it would be even more jarring to have Carrey embodying the man tasked with cleaning up Trump’s pandemic mess.
My first thought upon hearing the news of Lorne Michaels canning Carrey was: How did he break the news? When Adam Sandler and Chris Farley were fired from SNL in the ‘90s, their managers casually informed them, with Sandler’s hinting, “Maybe you don’t go back next year.”
“Yes, we were [fired],” Sandler told me in a 2014 interview. “We kind of quit at the same time as being fired. It was the end of the run for us. The fact that me and him got fired? Who knows. We were on it for a few years, had our run, and everything happens for a reason. We kind of understood because we did our thing. It hurt a lot at the time because we were young and didn’t know where we were going, but it all worked out.”
Carrey’s ouster raises the question: Who should replace him?
Imagine if Leslie Nielsen was still alive? His overconfident, gaffe-prone old white guy shtick would be absolutely perfect for Biden. Phil Hartman could’ve knocked it out of the park too, though he could do just about anything. In their absence (RIP kings), SNL could always return to Sudeikis, though the actor may be overcommitted thanks to his starring role in the hit Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso. Woody Harrelson is also a possibility; his brief Biden stint was delightfully deranged. And as far as impressionists go, the sketch-comedy show has one of the best in the game already in their cast: Chloe Fineman, whom they’ve yet to properly utilize. Having breathed life into everyone from Carole Baskin to Timothee Chalamet, she could surely pull off Biden—and it’d have the added bonus of affording her a big character to really make her own. Or what about Tig Notaro? Her measured delivery could be a solid match for Biden. Former cast members Norm Macdonald or Kevin Nealon could have what it takes.
But as we all know, SNL loves to make a big, movie-star splash. So what about Tom Hanks, who’s proven to be a game (and excellent) host, and featured in one of the funniest sketches in recent memory? Or go full-gonzo and cast Christopher Walken?
For my money, the best A-list choice to play Biden would be Jack Nicholson, who’s got the cocky, winking, sunglasses-grin down to a science. And since there likely won’t be any in-person Lakers games for the foreseeable future, he could have some free time on his hands. Whoever the choice is, it’ll be better than Carrey, who never felt natural as Uncle Joe.
Plus, they’ve already got the perfect Kamala Harris.