NBC sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” finally has an African-American man playing Obama, and on Thursday night his second appearance on the show proved why the network made the crucial switch so late in the election.
“Okay, I understand your frustration,” actor Jay Pharoah said, taking a question during the sketch from an actress playing an unemployed woman. “I’ve said from day one that real change takes more than one term or even one president. I don’t know if it will even happen in eight years. Might take 12. Frankly, I might be long dead. Maybe you’ll be dead too. You hear what I’m saying?”
“Um, I guess?” the woman responded.
“Look, we’re in a deep financial hole,” Pharoah continued. “23 million people out of work, but things are getting better. Remember that movie, ‘The Sixth Sense’? I’m like the kid in that movie: I see employed people. I know you don’t see ‘em, don’t even know they’re there, but one day all of you will be Bruce Willis and you’ll realize that you were employed all along. Won’t that be nice?”
Pharoah took over the Obama role earlier this month after more than two years with the show’s cast, and looked more at ease than ever on last night’s episode of “Weekend Update Thursday.” It’s a sketch that seems like it was written to highlight SNL’s new Obama, and like any good satire it hits the mark. Enthusiastic Democrats can expect to deadpan at most of the material, and it’s sure to delight the president’s opponents.
But more impressive is Pharoah’s finely-tuned Obama portrayal, which appears to be truly ready for prime time. His first appearance on SNL as Obama, on Saturday, Sept. 16, was definitely an improvement over actor Fred Armisen’s Obama character, but he wasn’t quite as spot-on as he was Thursday night.
The key difference: Pharoah’s first SNL spot as Obama featured him making fun of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but “Weekend Update Thursday” featured the talented impressionist truly satirizing Obama, and he really got it.
“Of course, it hasn’t been easy,” he said during Thursday’s sketch. “Not even for me. Look at me. I took office as a 47-year-old man. Four years later, I’m 75. Went from hip-hop star to jazz musician. Baby Face to B.B. King. I guess black do crack. But I promise you, things are much better.”
This video is from SNL’s “Weekend Update Thursday,” broadcast Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.