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David Harbour is gritty Oscar the Grouch in SNL's brilliant Joker parody

Maureen Lee Lenker

Brought to you by the letter R (for graphic violence, nudity, and a potty mouth that is), it’s Saturday Night Live does Sesame Street meets Joker.

On Saturday night’s episode of SNL, hosted by Stranger Things star David Harbour, the sketch show sent up the new cinematic take on Joker with their own “gritty anti-hero origin story” Grouch. The fake trailer starred Harbour as Oscar, a garbage man living in the Sesame Street neighborhood who becomes so twisted by the world around him, he transforms into Oscar the Grouch, complete with trashcan.

The sketch featured many beloved Sesame Street characters in the most grotesque renderings imaginable — Ernie and Bert getting mugged for their beloved rubber ducky; the Count in the throes of an opioid addiction; Cookie Monster homeless and begging for money for cookies; Mr. Snuffleupagus, aka Snuffy, as a pimp; and Elmo getting arrested for selling crack.

As Harbour’s Oscar the Grouch spirals into madness, the fake trailer parodies many of the shots from Todd Phillips’ Joker, including shots of a skinny shirtless Harbour becoming unhinged in his room and a grunge-clad Harbour dancing down a set of stairs. “If everyone calls you trash and everyone treats you like trash, why don’t you just become trash?” Harbour growls as he slathers his face in dark green make-up.

The send-up nails the gritty tone of Joker down to its rendition of the Sesame Street theme song transposed to a minor key and overlaid as a dark score, much as “Send in the Clowns” is over the Joker trailer.

Harbour also does a pitch-perfect take on Joaquin Phoenix’s performance down to his growling, unsettling tone of voice and his physicality when he delivers lines like, “Would you do me a favor? Would you call me the Grouch?”

Watch the clip above for more. Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET/8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.

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