Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton portrayed lawyer Johnnie Cochran, a sushi salesman and one of the three wise men searching for Jesus during his host stint on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
He was also confronted with a track suit-wearing vision of his former self, even singing a few verses of “I Feel Good” during a respectable James Brown imitation.
Sharpton, though, was nearly upstaged by reality TV and inadvertent video star Paris Hilton, who appeared in a double-entendre filled “interview” with Jimmy Fallon.
The presidential candidate’s appearance wasn’t seen everywhere. All four NBC affiliates in Iowa refused to air “Saturday Night Live” for fear it would activate federal “equal time provisions” and compel them to offer time to the other eight Democrats running for president. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture).
It’s unlikely other Democratic candidates will follow Sharpton as host, since it would require them to take a week off the campaign trail to rehearse.
"For me, it’s a wonderful opportunity,” Sharpton said in his opening monologue. “Maybe tonight, people can finally get to know the real Al Sharpton. President Al Sharpton.”
Comic Tracy Morgan appeared next to him dressed as the “old” Sharpton, with wilder hair, track suit and medallion.
“I never looked that bad,” Sharpton said. Then, remembering his days spent on the road with Brown, he sang and even attempted some of Brown’s footwork.
Sharpton also appeared as a naturalist’s sidekick during one skit that required him to repeat the line, “I do love the ladies.” And he sat in a roller coaster, portraying Cochran, trying to get Michael Jackson to concentrate on the molestation charges against him.
As one of three black wise men searching for Jesus, Sharpton was pulled over by the police, and he pretended to open a sushi restaurant to pay for his campaign.
Hilton, who had canceled several TV appearances to promote her hit reality show, “The Simple Life,” after a video of her having sex with an ex-boyfriend spread across the Internet, was skewered by Fallon in the raunchy “Weekend Update” segment.
He noted that there really was a Hilton hotel in Paris.
“I’d like to be able to check in to the Paris Hilton,” he said.