NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' kicked off its 2011 season last night with an examination of the GOP presidential debate, featuring a who's who among Republican presidential hopefuls.
The many Republican presidential debates that have aired in quick succession since late in the summer have featured numerous moments that were readily available for natural lampooning, and now that the 2011 season of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has kicked off, the comedic opportunities are certainly abundant.
And at the SNL season opener, the cast did not disappoint.
Introduced as "either the 7th or 8th GOP debate," the Republican presidential debate was moderated by Fox News' Shepard Smith, played brilliantly by SNL's Bill Hader.
"Good evening, I'm Shepard Smith, and I come from a town full of secrets," Hader said. "I'd like to begin by apologizing for responses by the audience at the previous three debates who booed a soldier, cheered executions and applauded the death of an uninsured man. It was inappropriate. I'd also like to apologize for the late start tonight. There was a six car pile-up on route 20 that burst into flames."
The audience then erupted into applause.
The SNL team then took their viewers on a character tour of the Republican presidential candidates, with a spot-on Mitt Romney; Governor Rick Perry, played well by Alec Baldwin; Michele Bachmann, with full emphasis placed on her eyeballs; a panicky Rick Santorum; a badly-aged Ron Paul; Newt Gingrich; Jon Huntsman and a catatonic Herman Cain.
The debate highlighted the inconsistencies of Governor Perry's prior debate performances; Jon Huntsman's experience as the former ambassador to China; Congressman Ron Paul's Libertarian agenda; Congresswoman Bachmann's positions on HPV vaccinations; Newt Gingrich's desire to actually become president; Rick Santorum's perceived disconnection with the modern world; and an analysis of the similarities between pizza and the presidency by pizza tycoon Herman Cain.