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Did Jay Pharoah Just Have a Breakout Night?

It sure feels that way.

And we’re not referring to the Saturday Night Live performer’s appearance as President Obama in the cold-open with Kerry Washington. His impression is serviceable and certainly a merciful relief from Fred Armisen‘s agonizingly unfunny 44th. No, it’s what followed that was off-the-hook notable.

Pharaoh channeled the slickness of Andy Samberg‘s taped bits for the music video spoof “My Girl;” he was gut-bustingly hilarious on Weekend Update as Shaquille O’Neal, alongside Kenan Thompson‘s great Charles Barkley; and Pharaoh again provided a great spark with Washington in the skit “How’s He Doing” when he talked, in character as Ebony writer Ronnie Williams, about how much he would love to get a “white person’s mail.”

Jodi Walker, in her EW recap, singles out Pharoah. The young performer is also getting tons of callback in the media for the aforementioned music video spoof of Ylvis viral smash “What Did the Fox Say?”

Meanwhile, Awful Announcing took note of the Shaq-Barkley bit as “something else.” It certainly was. In fact, if there’s any way for Pharoah to retool his Obama in that exaggerated direction, we would heartily recommend. In this second-term home stretch, it’s time to loosen up that impression a bit and take it over the top in the same way Pharaoh did this weekend with The Big Aristotle.

How did the target of Pharoah’s Weekend Update spoofing react? He loved it so much, he tweeted out the link twice.

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