Saturday Night Live seems hell-bent on righting its wrongs. Last November, NBC’s late-night sketch comedy show allowed then-Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump to host, normalizing a candidate who’d announced his White House run months earlier with a racist speech targeting Mexican immigrants—a speech that got him fired from NBC. The ex-Apprentice host danced along to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” (RIP) and appeared in a pandering sketch depicting a future America where the “whole country’s at peace” under his leadership. It was a shameless, despicable ratings stunt—one of several curious pro-Trump episodes at the peacock, including Jimmy Fallon playing with the myopic mogul’s cotton candy hair, fellow snake oil salesman Dr. Oz providing a platform for his second bogus doctor’s note, and Matt Lauer lobbing him softballs during the network’s Commander-in-Chief Forum. Makes one wonder if all this hand-holding was part of Trump’s exit agreement with NBC.
Then, in the months leading up to Election Day, SNL finally pulled its head out of its ass, hiring outspoken Democrat Alec Baldwin to mock The Donald in a series of presidential debate send-ups. But after the hosting stint, it seemed like too little, too late.
Baldwin returned to SNL Saturday night to rip into Trump—now president-elect—a little more, poking fun at the real-estate heir’s chaotic transition.
The scene opened at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump’s shocked and guilt-ridden on-air surrogate Kellyanne Conway (played by Kate McKinnon) ushered in a series of bigwigs to meet with Trump—such as General Dunlap, who claimed to be excited to know Trump’s still-secret “big plan” to destroy ISIS. The meeting prompted a nervous Trump to rush over to his computer and think out loud, “Big plan… big plan… Google: What is ISIS? Oh my. Fifty-nine million results. Siri, how do I kill ISIS? It’s a BlackBerry!” before muttering to himself, “Big beautiful boobs and buildings, big beautiful boobs and buildings…” Jason Sudeikis’s Mitt Romney also made a cameo, shaking hands awkwardly with Trump before breaking the silence with: “This isn’t going to work, is it?”
Finally, Vice President-elect Mike Pence (played by Beck Bennett) entered the room—fresh off his trip to the Broadway play Hamilton that ended in a surprise onstage plea for harmony from the show to the former Indiana governor, with cast member Brandon V. Dixon stating: “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.” The crowd cheered Dixon’s remarks, but Trump—not to be outdone—unleashed a series of tweets over a 12-hour period on Saturday (including one he later deleted) attacking the show for its peaceful, civil message:
Cue the following exchange between Baldwin’s Trump and Beckett’s Pence on SNL:
TRUMP: “I heard you went to see Hamilton. How was that?”
PENCE: “It was good. I got a free lecture.”
TRUMP: “I heard they booed you.”
TRUMP: “I love you, Mike. You’re the reason I’m never gonna get impeached.”
Here’s the thing: this joke isn’t funny anymore. Trump’s Twitter tirade—coincidentally unleashed while his son-in-law/consigliere Jared Kushner and wife Ivanka were observing Shabbos—was classic him, moving attention away from his $25 million settlement for defrauding thousands of working-class citizens who fell for his sham Trump University, his deeply troubling cabinet appointments, his “stay-to-play” scandal in coaxing foreign diplomats to stay at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., the conflict of interest in daughter Ivanka (who runs his businesses) sitting in on his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, or his clandestine, highly problematic meeting with his Indian business partners.
Seeing Baldwin mope and muck it up as Trump has lost most of its luster. Trump is the president-elect, SNL helped him get there, and many people are, as Dixon said, “alarmed and anxious.”