Move over, Tina Fey and Sarah Palin. There’s a new dominating doppelgänger duo in town.
Over the weekend, two of my favorite Brooklyn-bred Jewish curmudgeons joined forces on Saturday Night Live, raising the bar for all future politician-celebrity look-alike couplings. Hosting the show was comedian Larry David, whose uncanny resemblance—in looks, temperament, and distinct borough vernacular—to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has not gone unnoticed. After giving us a taste of Larry David’s spot-on impression of Bernie Sanders last October, SNL finally answered my prayers by uniting the two.
During the show, Sanders, with acting chops all his own, spoofed himself alongside David for a segment titled “Steam Ship,” in which the two find themselves aboard a ship that’s aground. David’s character insists that wealth should secure him early life-boat access, while Sanders’ character (here named Bernie Sanderswitzky) gives the audience a barely-altered version of his campaign stump speech, insisting the one percent don’t deserve “preferential treatment.”
In another segment, “Bern Your Enthusiasm,” an amalgamation of Sanders’ first name and David’s HBO show Curb Your Enthusiasm, the comedian plays Sanders on the campaign trail. But there’s a twist: David, instead of echoing Sanders’ political persona, utilizes the distinctive, stubborn mannerisms that mark characters from his own comedic history. When a voter tries to shake David’s Sander’s hand in the skit, he refuses, freaking out over germs and playing into Curb’s signature brand of Jewish neurosis.
Sanders’s SNL appearance on the show alongside David, another liberal, secular Jew from New York City, and his proud identification in one skit as a Democratic Socialist, is important because it shows that Sanders is embracing attributes that could be viewed as stereotypes, and it seems to be working in his favor.
Bernie Sanderswitzky on the other hand? He’s changed his name “so it doesn’t sound so Jewish.”