Like a gift from the satirical gods, the Brett Kavanaugh follow-up hearing arrived at the perfect time for the 44th season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” — on Thursday, early enough to allow for two days of jokewriting and late enough to be fresh in viewers’ minds.
And the show ran with it, opening the episode with a 13-minute rehash of the fiery, historic hearing starring an Oscar winner in the central role.
Matt Damon, a previous “SNL” host, masterfully took on the Kavanaugh role — sniffing compulsively, turning pages with an aggressive snap and slamming water so hard he was dribbling on his lap.
For most of his testimony, the faux Kavanaugh was bitter and frustrated, except for a few weepy moments when he mentioned “these beautiful, creepy calendars.”
Like the real nominee, he was determined not to withdraw. “I’m not backing down, you sons of bitches!,” the judge and accused sexual predator barked. “I don’t know the meaning of the word stop!”
And alcohol was a persistent theme. “Did you ever drink too many beers?” asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (played by returning cast member Rachel Dratch).
“Was I cool?” Damon paraphrased. “Yeah!”
Kate McKinnon played Sen. Lindsey Graham, a role she first took on during the 2016 Republican primaries. After a spoof of Graham’s indignant harangue during Thursday’s hearing, the jowly McKinnon concluded, “This right now, this is my audition for Mr. Trump’s Cabinet, and also a regional production of ‘The Crucible.’ ”
Many of the hearing’s most conspicuous senators were razzed in the sketch, which included Alex Moffat as Chuck Grassley, Cecily Strong as Dianne Feinstein, Beck Bennett as Orrin Hatch and Chris Redd as Cory Booker. Aidy Bryant played Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor hired as a surrogate for the committee’s Republican senators.
Not depicted and barely even mentioned was Kavanaugh accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, whose role in this week’s saga is not exactly the stuff of comedy. But hearing spectator Alyssa Milano was — a cutout of the actress and #MeToo advocate kept popping up behind the speaker of the moment.
But it was Damon who had the last word, forgoing his water pitcher to heft a can of water and shotgun it, brewski-style, before yelling, “Live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night!’ ”
Kavanaugh also entered into a later sketch depicting a debaucherous ’80s frat party. Though he was never named in the bit, the context was clear as the futures of the young partiers were foretold, and we learned of the careers ruined (or boosted) by the misbehavior of that night.
In the opening credits and introductions by Driver, the musical guest was introduced as Kanye West, despite the Chicago rapper’s declaration earlier in the day that he henceforth should be called “Ye.” It was the eighth “SNL” appearance for West, a last-minute substitute for Grande, who dropped out this week for “emotional reasons,” “SNL” boss Lorne Michaels said.
Proving he hasn’t lost his flair for the eccentric, West performed alongside Lil Pump on their new track “I Love It” as both wore giant water bottle costumes (reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s “SNL” getups as a singing street promo man hyping various retailers). But he didn’t perform in any comedy bits.
Next week’s host is rising star Awkwafina of “Ocean’s Eight” and “Crazy Rich Asians” fame, paired with musical guest Travis Scott in his “SNL” debut. On Oct. 13, longtime Weekend Update anchor and current “Late Night” frontman Seth Meyers hosts for the first time, with friend of the show Paul Simon marking his 77th birthday by again performing on “SNL.”