In what may be a pop-culture first, “Saturday Night Live” spoofed Martin Luther King in its opening sketch — portraying the slain civil rights leader as a man more interested in dishing on Michelle Obama’s hairstyle than discussing racial equality.
The bit took place late on Inauguration Day in the White House, as President Obama (Jay Pharoah) sat alone enjoying a late-night glass of beer and savoring the onset of his second term. And, since the inaugural took place on Martin Luther King Day, the president was suddenly visited by the spirit of the great man (played by Kenan Thompson).
While the president wished to take this rare opportunity to talk about the future of race relations in America, the irreverent reverend wanted to talk about the inaugural — especially the beauty of Beyonce, and the First Lady’s new hairstyle. “What’s up with Michelle’s bangs?” Dr. King asked, laughing. “Is she guest-starring on ‘The New Girl’?”
When the president tried to redirect the conversation to more-serious issues, Dr. King wouldn’t go there. Said he, “Why do I have to be stately and serious for all of eternity?!”
Our take: While some might groan at the thought of Martin Luther King being parodied in this way, we’re pretty sure the folks at “SNL” meant no disrespect. However, detractors might not take kindly to the portrayal of Rev. King as a man who has eyes for the ladies since his reputation as a ladies’ man in real life has been widely reported by his biographers. And some might balk simply because they’re unaccustomed to seeing Dr. King portrayed in a less than “stately and serious” light — a portrayal not far removed from the jovial George Washingtons and Abraham Lincolns that crop up every February to announce Presidents’ Day deals on appliances and new cars.
With rock star Adam Levine of Maroon 5 as guest-host of “SNL” this weekend, it was inevitable that the show would get around to spoofing “The Voice,” the NBC talent show on which Levine is a judge and coach. The show didn’t waste any time fulfilling that responsibility — dealing with it in Levine’s opening monologue. In the bit, three stars turned up in swivel chairs to “coach” the rock star on how to guest-host a comedy show — former “SNL”er Andy Samberg, movie star Cameron Diaz (by virtue, we suppose, of her roles in comedy films) and sitcom legend Jerry Seinfeld. Before the bit was over, Levine had taken off his shirt — which was what the audience was apparently hoping for.
But our favorite bit of the whole night was a hilarious send-up of the CW — a parody stemming from the younger-skewing network’s recent introduction of “The Carrie Diaries,” the series that depicts the life of “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw in her younger years. On “SNL,” the writers apparently began to wonder whether the CW would ever turn to another classic HBO series — “The Sopranos” — to depict Tony, Paulie, Silvio, Carmela and the rest as high school students. The result was “The Sopranos Diaries” — a great sketch from start to finish.
Samberg made another appearance on “SNL” Saturday night — in a new Lonely Island video, in which he was joined by Adam Levine. This one, called “YOLO” (for “you only live once”), was filled with — ahem — “advice” on how to prolong the one life you have to live. Here’s a hint: This “advice” is the opposite of what you might expect from a rap song titled “YOLO.”