After 9/11, Saturday Night Live turned its cold open to Paul Simon, who sang a somber version of “The Boxer.” It was none other Rudy Giuliani who got the first laugh of the night when Lorne Michaels asked him if it was OK for the show to be funny and he responded, “Why start now?”
Tonight’s cold open, the first after Donald Trump was elected president, didn’t even have a punchline.
To mark both the election’s unexpected outcome and the death of Leonard Cohen, Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton sat behind a piano and sang “Hallelujah.” In what may be the last time we see her play this character on SNL, she couldn’t even bear to make us laugh. When the song was over, she turned to the camera and said, “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.”
Missing in action was Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump. Asked on Election Day whether he would be returning to Saturday Night Live as Trump this week, the actor said he “hoped” not, indicating that he would only be back if Trump won—an outcome that still seemed preposterous on Tuesday morning.
Just one week ago, Baldwin had broken character and apologized to Kate McKinnon for all the nasty stuff his Trump has said to her Hillary Clinton this fall. Apparently, he and Lorne Michaels felt it was just too soon to laugh about President-elect Donald Trump.