“Saturday Night Live” Begins Season 36

The 36th season of “Saturday Night Live” kicked off last night with a familiar face, lots of cameos and a New York governor.

“SNL” alum Amy Poehler, now star of the NBC comedy “Parks and Recreation,” returned back to her old digs as the guest host. Her opening monologue was mainly a dream sequence drawing on Poehler’s fear of arriving late to the show. She meets a variety of people in the dream, including former “SNL” cast mates Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch, and has an awkward kissing scene with the real-life Justin Timberlake.

Poehler also reprised some familiar roles she played on the show including Amber, the one-legged flatulent woman with an attitude, and as the Weekend Update co-anchor with Seth Meyers. She also played a character in one skit who wears tiny hats.

Musical guest Katy Perry appeared in a skit as a young, bespeactacled library volunteer who was invited on a talk show called “Bronx Beat,” hosted by Betty and Jodi (played respectively by Poehler and former "SNL" actress Maya Rudolph). Perry's character wore a revealing Elmo-looking shirt, perhaps a reference to the real-life controversy of Perry and  “Sesame Street.”

As herself, Perry performed two songs off her recent new album “Teenage Dream.” Dressed in her Lolita outfit, Perry was surrounded by a backdrop of cotton candy and lollipops during “California Gurls”; later, she sang “Teenage Dream” with musicians and backing singers wearing football jerseys and cheerleader outfits.

The real highlight of the show occurred during the Weekend Update segment when Gov. David Paterson, played by Fred Armisen, appeared on to talk about the New York governor’s race . Staying in character like in his previous "SNL" appearances, Armisen’s Paterson is portrayed as a bumbling guest who likes to slam New Jersey.

But then the real David Paterson appeared, said "Stop! Stop! Stop!" and made fun of the fake governor’s look: “I shaved that [beard] off a year ago. Are you blind?” Paterson went on to poke fun at the show that he previously criticized for its insensitivity towards the disabled. He also compared “SNL” to working in Albany: “There’s a lot of characters, it’s funny for 10 minutes, and then you want it to be over.” Then he said, “I’m blind, I’m governor, and I’m still alive.”

Other noteworthy moments on the program included a skit on Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell (played by Kristen Wiig), who revealed to campaign consultants that she actually masturbates (the real O'Donnell had reportedly spoken out against masturbation) and has staged dog-fighting; a Republican National Committee TV commercial that alleges the proposed controversial mosque near Ground Zero is now offering to hold gay weddings; and an Actor II Actor interview between Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake that ends badly.

The show also marked the debut of four new featured players for the season: Paul Brittain, Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer and Jay Pharaoh, who did a dead-on impression of Will Smith during Weekend Update.

Next week’s installment of “Saturday Night Live”  (Oct. 2) will be hosted by “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston with musical guest Kanye West.

Selected Reading: The Associated Press

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