A ninth season of his HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm looks about as likely as a Jeb! presidency, but America’s favorite curmudgeon, Larry David, has been generous enough to treat us to several Saturday Night Live appearances this season—from his October stint as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (“I own one pair of underwear, that’s it!”) to his heckling of host Donald Trump (“Trump’s a racist!”) in November.
Well, on Wednesday, Sanders himself jokingly admitted, “I am Larry David,” to Anderson Cooper during a CNN town hall, and on Saturday night, less than an hour after Chris Christie’s hectoring caused Marco Rubio to short-circuit during ABC’s GOP debate, Sanders confronted his comedic doppelganger on SNL.
It didn’t happen in the cold open, however. The night’s show opened with Taran Killam’s Ted Cruz laying his soul bare: “I have overcome perhaps the greatest political liability of all time: being Ted Cruz,” says Killam. “Mine is a story of triumph over adversity, like FDR and his wheelchair—but instead of a wheelchair, it’s my personality and face.”
No argument here. It didn’t happen during the opening monologue either, a fun little spiel by Larry about the difference between shmucks and pricks, and how it’s OK that women only like him for his money because he’s old, bald, and cranky.
And then it (sorta) came—or so you thought. The credits for a new HBO series, Bern Your Enthusiasm, ran across the screen, before opening on David as Bernie Sanders at a presidential rally in Iowa. When he’s approached by a supporter (Leslie Jones) and her family, he refuses to shake her hand after she coughs into it.
“You specifically coughed into your hand, I saw it!” exclaims David’s Sanders. “She’s the one who’s being rude by offering a germ-infested hand! I’m running for president, I do not shake disgusting hands.”
He returns to his campaign headquarters where he’s berated by his adviser—and nemesis—Susie, played by Cecily Strong (doing an amazing Susie Essman impression).
“You’re not normal, you’re an asshole!” she yells at him. “You need the black vote, Bernie!” adds Jay Pharoah as the Curb character Leon. “You need to shake as many black hands as you can!”
Sanders moseys over to a diner to grab a coffee, when suddenly, a Bernie supporter (Aidy Bryant) crashes her Volvo outside on her way to vote for him. “I think I dislocated my shoulder, so could you just pop it back in?” she asks.
“Pop it back in? Are you nuts?” replies Sanders. “I don’t want [the vote] that bad! I’m from Brooklyn! We don’t pop in Brooklyn. I have no popping experience!”
So Bernie retreats back to his campaign HQ—sans coffee—only to learn he’s just lost the Iowa caucus by five votes: the woman, her family, and the supporter, who all went over to Team Hillary. A cheeky parody, to be sure, but #WheresBernie?
Next came a seemingly run-of-the-mill sketch depicting the sinking of the Titanic. “Women and children first!” screams the captain, much to the ire of David’s Irishman character .
“OK, I hate to pull this, but my father is rich!” he exclaims. “I come from a wealthy family. Technically, my life is worth more than all of yours put together—especially these women and midgets! So, if it’s all the same to you, I’m gonna pop down in that lifeboat!”
And then Bernie emerges—presumably from steerage, and dressed like Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson from the blockbuster Titanic. “Hold on, hold on, wait a second! I am so sick of the one percent getting this preferential treatment!” yells Bernie. “Enough is enough! We need to unite and work together if we’re all going to get through this.” “Sounds like socialism to me!” David replies. “Democratic socialism!” fires back Bernie. “Huge difference. Huge… I am Bernie Sanderswitsky, but we’re gonna change it when we get to America so it doesn’t sound quite so Jewish.” “Yeah, that’ll trick ‘em!” jokes David, before the two realize they’ve actually crash-landed in New York. “Share a cab?” asks Bernie. “Eh, I think we’ve talked enough.”
It was a hilarious two-man routine reminiscent of Abbott and Costello—or rather Jerry and George, the Seinfeld surrogate for Larry David.
The Bernie cameo came four months after Hillary Clinton performed in a sketch with her SNL impersonator, Kate McKinnon, during the show’s Season 41 premiere. He may not have won Iowa, but when it comes to SNL, Bernie’s appearance edges Hillary’s by a prettyyy, prettyyy wide margin.