New 'SNL' cast member Michael Longfellow takes killer jabs at Arizona on 'Weekend Update'

Arizona has provided fertile ground for “Saturday Night Live” in recent years. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema alone has been good for a lot of laughs and still could be if the show wanted to go that route.

Meghan McCain, Rep. Paul Gosar and former Sen. Jeff Flake have also been the target of ridicule.

The 48th season premiere Saturday, hosted by Miles Teller and with Kendrick Lamar as musical guest, brought Arizona back into the spotlight again, but in a different way.

There was a Brittney Griner joke during “Weekend Update” — more on that in a moment. But Michael Longfellow, who is from Phoenix and graduated from Arizona State University, got a featured segment, also during “Weekend Update.” Think of the Pete Davidson desk bits and you’ll have the idea.

And Longfellow killed it, in part by making jokes about Arizona and its politics.  He also had a bit part in the show's cold-open. Teller was a spot-on Peyton Manning and Andrew Dismukes portrayed Eli as his dopey little brother. They broke down the segment as it happened. Longfellow showed up, and the "Mannings" joked that the cold-open appearance might be the last we saw of him.

It wasn't.

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Colin Jost and Michael Longfellow had grade-A banter on 'Weekend Update'

Michael Longfellow
Michael Longfellow

"Weekend Update" anchor Colin Jost introduced Longfellow to comment on the online uproar over Sydney Sweeney’s Instagram posts that “suggested her parents might be Trump supporters.” He brought Longfellow out for commentary.

“Well, my family’s from Arizona,” Longfellow said. “So if you can get in trouble for what your parents think? It’s been a good run.”

He said his father doesn’t believe the COVID-19 virus is real.

“You shouldn’t cut anti-vax people out of your life,” Longfellow said. “They could be dead tomorrow. Spend time with them. Call them. Get in the will.”

Jost pointed out that Sweeney’s parents got grief for apparently being Trump supporters.

“Well, Colin, I don’t want to shock you, but my dad doesn’t hate that guy,” Longfellow said.

Really, Jost said.

“No. He’s not one of those anti-vax Arizona liberals you’re always reading about,” Longfellow said.

He went on to say that family dynamics are tricky. Surely some of Jost’s family is Republican, he asked?

No, not really, Jost said.

“Oh, just you?” Longfellow said.

It was an auspicious debut — it wasn’t just that Longfellow was funny, which he was. He was also comfortable, as if he’d been sitting in at the “Weekend Update” desk for a few seasons. His banter with Jost should assure him several more appearances on the segment. And his willingness to make fun of both his family and Arizona bodes well. He's sneaky subversive, all smiles and grins, with sharp edges underneath.

Twitter loved him, for what that's worth. Which may be a lot.

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Jost also referenced Brittney Griner during the 'SNL' season debut

Earlier in “Weekend Update” Jost noted that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow urged Americans to leave Russia immediately.

“‘Oh cool, I’ll try to do that,’ said Britney Griner,” Jost said. Griner has been held on drug-related charges in Russia since February. She pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and smuggling; her arrest and conviction is widely considered a political maneuver.

The live audience groaned a bit, a reminder of the huge stakes of her case. But the joke was also a reminder that comedy can sometimes cut to the chase in ways that straightforward reports can’t, or won't.

With the nation’s eyes on Arizona during the midterm elections, with a slate of election-denying candidates on the Republican ticket and the requisite shenanigans that implies, there are endless Arizona possibilities for “SNL” over the next few weeks. If his debut is any indication, with Longfellow on board, it should be worth watching.

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Reach Goodykoontz at bill.goodykoontz@arizonarepublic.com. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk. Subscribe to the weekly movies newsletter.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 'SNL' premiere: Michael Longfellow jabs at Arizona on 'Update'