Take a bow, Toronto. Your city and your mayor have hit the big time courtesy of last night's outrageous opening sketch on Saturday Night Live. Rob Ford is now officially the biggest comedy target on late-night television.
Most people already knew that Ford was going to be lampooned on last night's edition of NBC's venerable sketch series (cast regular Seth Meyers gave it away last week), but nobody knew it was going to be this vicious.
In recent weeks, the ever-developing story of Toronto's embattled mayor has provided rich comedy fodder for literally every U.S. late-night TV program, including The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live. Last night was SNL's turn.
The SNL Ford-skewering follows reports that Anderson Cooper will sit down with the mayor for a TV interview scheduled to air Monday on CNN at 8 p.m. ET.
Currently in its 39th season, SNL unfailingly opens each episode with a sketch parodying a person and/or event plucked from the previous week's news, most often U.S. political news. The tradition began with Dan Aykroyd portraying former U.S. president Richard Nixon and has carried through more recently to Tina Fey playing failed candidate Sarah Palin.
This time, however, it was SNL's turn to take aim at a Canadian politician, which produced a skit that parodied the mayor apologizing for aberrant public behaviour, such as smoking crack, drinking and driving, and using vulgar language. It was merciless.
The sketch began with the familiar CBC exploding-tomato logo and cut to Mayor Ford, portrayed by cast regular Bobby Moynihan. The CBC host presses SNL Ford on his aberrant behaviour, to which the big man responds, "Ooh, I guess I goofed up, eh?"
As the sketch goes on, SNL Ford complains that a big part of the problem is his propensity to take a bad photograph. The CBC host offers to take another and the SNL Ford makes one of his now-typical florid bug-eyed facial expression.
Next, SNL Ford is depicted at one of his multiple public apologies appearing against the press-conference backdrop used by Toronto city council – the same blue-and-white backdrop that has now become background scenery for many of Ford's bombastic moments.
All goes calmly until he brings out a chapstick and invites the press to use it in a sycophantic manner.
Cut back to SNL Ford in the CBC studio: "I goofed up."
The sketch got more pointed, and outrageous, as it went on. The SNL edition of Ford was next shown at another press conference, when a cast member playing a stereotypical version of a crack dealer shows up with a package.
"Let's do it under the desk," says the SNL Ford. And also: "Don't say what it is!" The Ford character is apparently shown the merchandise and exclaims loudly, "Whoa! That is a lot of crack!"
Shift back to the CBC studio, the Ford character says, "Ooph, again, I feel bad aboot that."
In one final segment, the SNL Ford portrayal is shown at yet another press conference, this time drinking a tall boy and dancing drunkenly while singing, "I'm the best mayor in the world.."
Back in the CBC studio, SNL Ford concedes: "Boy, I should stop doing press conferences."
The Ford character remains defiant and tells the CBC reporter that he needs to go on a show "that will believe anything I say."
Cut to the familiar 60 Minutes clock and the SNL Ford sitting down with a correspondent. When the shifty-eyed character denies using crack, marijuana or alcohol, she tells him "I believe you," three times in a row. And so the SNL version of Ford receives absolution, before bellowing "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night Live!"
The ongoing Ford saga also turned up in SNL's Weekend Update segment, with an unflattering photo of the mayor with bulging eyes and anchor Cesily Strong referring slyly to his crude use of graphic sexual terms last week and the mayor's comment that he had "more than enough to eat at home."
Strong's setup: "This week we found out what happens when a Canadian stops being polite and starts getting real.."
The punchline: "Though after that press conference, I'm betting the kitchen is closed."
The Update segment also featured a report from co-anchor Seth Meyers commenting on the fact that Ford was recently autographing bobble-head dolls in his likeness outside Toronto City Hall.
Observed Meyers: "Interesting fact, bobble head is one of the side effects of smoking crack."