For a minute there, it seemed like we were going to be spared dueling Trump impressions from The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon and his guest, this week’s Saturday Night Live host Alec Baldwin.
But then it happened.
The pair mostly avoided talking politics during their interview Thursday night. The one exception came early when Fallon complemented Baldwin on his look and the actor replied, “I got this suit from the Ivanka Trump men’s collection at Nordstrom. Big sale right now, 95 percent off of everything.”
Later in the show, the two men sat down for the frequent Tonight Show game “Box of Lies.” It was Fallon who first broke into his Trump. Baldwin didn’t miss a beat, mirroring his puckered facial expression. He pulled out a Chewbacca mask with a blond wig on it, but instead he told Fallon, as Trump, that he had a “really big, fat, juicy burrito filled with bananas” from Honduras.
“It’s not a big, fat juicy burrito from China, is it?” Fallon asked.
“No, I myself would never eat a burrito from China,” Baldwin said. “And the Honduran who delivered this burrito to the studio, we had him deported.” At least he worked in a pointed joke about Trump’s stance on immigrants.
Whether or not this Trump-off was planned, it highlighted the increasing difficulty of finding humor in the new president’s increasingly erratic and dangerous moves. Baldwin and Fallon may have been able to crack each other up with their respective impressions, but that may not be enough for Baldwin to carry an entire episode of SNL this weekend that is sure to have multiple Trump sketches throughout.
“Playing him is not a lot of fun. He’s tense, he’s angry, he’s pissed off, and that’s not fun to play,” Baldwin told Extra in an interview earlier in the day, seeming to admit that it is starting to wear on him. “Another thing I find that’s so weird about the stuff we’re doing, we’re just repeating back what he says. Doing this is strange, but what is even more strange is this is real.”
But even repeating back, or elevating, the things Trump says carries more bite than simply saying silly things in his voice.
Baldwin and Fallon did not address the blowback the Tonight Show host received after he messed up Trump’s hair—and generally treated him as gently as possible—in Trump’s last late-night sit-down before the election. But those issues did arise the night before when Fallon had another of his NBC colleagues, Seth Meyers, on his couch.
When Fallon broached the subject, Meyers joked slyly, “I didn’t hear about that.”
“You didn’t?” Fallon asked, laughing. “Yeah, it got a pretty big reaction.”
Meyers generously said he was “insulted” by the narrative that Fallon helped get Trump elected, because he feels that he was personally responsible. “I know after that happened, you took some heat,” Meyers said. “And some people said you are the reason he won. And I’m so insulted by that, because I am the reason he won.”
The Late Night host was referring to the infamous 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech he gave that, legend has it, spurred Trump to run for president in the first place. “I kicked the hornet’s nest, you just rubbed the hornet’s head,” Meyers said. “Both bad,” he added. “But I got a man elected president, I want my points.”
At least Meyers has been atoning ever since by substantively hammering Trump night after night on his show. Fallon, on the other hand, is still playing it way too safe.