The Washington Times - September 16, 2012, 10:13AM

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” returned from summer vacation this weekend with a new President Obama, replacing longtime Barack impersonator Fred Armisen with African American cast member Jay Pharoah.

The sketch comedy show, which thrives on political satire, opened with Mr. Armisen, who is white, introducing his successor, who in previous seasons has wowed audiences with his spot-on impersonations of Denzel Washington and Will Smith.

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Mr. Armisen, in his 11th season on the show, says he has no plans to leave, but historically, SNL regulars, even stars such as Mr. Armisen, move on to film or other television projects.

Mr. Pharoah, in only his third year on the show and at 24 one of the youngest cast members, clearly had the president’s voice and mannerisms down, and he seemed to relish his promotion to a starring role.

In one of the show’s funnier moments, Mr. Pharoah introduced a parody of the anti-Romney “Cancer” ad with: “I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message.” Pause. “But I’m not proud of it.”

One cast member who is expected to leave the cast soon? Jason Sudeikis, who reprised his role of Mitt Romney for Saturday’s season opener.