Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared on the season opener of "Saturday Night Live" as a wise bartender named Val who pours a drink or two for, ahem, Hillary Clinton (played by "SNL" regular Kate McKinnon).

Most political candidates play themselves on "SNL," often for just a cameo in a sketch or to declare the show's famous tag line, "Live from New York — it's Saturday night!" Seldom do they go all-out thespian and play a character in a sketch.

"So, Hillary," Clinton asks McKinnon, "what brings you here tonight?"

"Well, I needed to blow off some steam," McKinnon says. "I've had a hard couple of 22 years." Asked what she does for a living, McKinnon says in imitation of Clinton's earnest monotone: "First, I am a grandmother. Second, I am a human, entrusted with this one green Earth."

"Oh," Clinton says, "you're a politician."

And just who is Val? Clinton deadpans, "I'm just an ordinary citizen who believes the Keystone pipeline will destroy our environment."

From there the skit poked gentle fun at Clinton's slow opposition to the pipeline, her late-arriving support for gay marriage, and her inability to take a vacation. Notably absent was a crack about her private e-mail server, the source of months of criticism from GOP lawmakers and candidates.

Republicans did not fare nearly as well as "SNL" began its 41st season. The opening sketch made fun of Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, and a faux commercial pitched a pill that cures people of thinking they can be president — specifically low-polling GOP candidates Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore.

Clinton had another role in the show — introducing the first musical number by host Miley Cyrus.

LeBron calls for more gun control

LeBron James is pushing for stiffer gun laws in the wake of another child killing in Cleveland. James spoke out on social media after an infant was shot and killed on Thursday, the same day 10 died in Oregon during another school shooting. "Obviously you're not going to be able to take every gun out, I don't know how you can do that. There's so many around now, today," James said Friday following Cavs practice. "But if there's some stipulations behind it or some penalties, some big-time penalties or rules or regulations about carrying firearms, legal or illegal, people will second-guess themselves." Three children have been shot to death in Cleveland just in the past month. .

Associated Press