If this past Monday’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most anticipated political event in modern history, then tonight’s parody version from Saturday Night Live wasn’t too far behind.
Just as the show cast Larry David as Bernie Sanders last season, they have now brought on Alec Baldwin as a nearly-full time cast member to take on Donald Trump—much to Darrell Hammond’s disappointment, no doubt. Following Matt Lauer’s kid-glove treatment of Trump and Jimmy Fallon’s even more laughable sit-down with the candidate, the stakes are high for SNL to avoid humanizing him the way they previously did with Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush and Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. So how did they do?
At the top, Michael Che made a rare sketch appearance as moderator Lester Holt, who introduced a coughing Hillary Clinton and “the man to blame for the bottom half of all his kids’ faces,” Donald Trump.
Baldwin got Trump’s podium-clutching and bizarre “China” pronunciations down perfectly. And while the real Trump waited until after the debate to complain about his microphone, he did so during the SNL debate. Beyond just interrupting Clinton with “wrong,” Baldwin’s Trump added “Shut up!,” admitted a make out session with Sean Hannity, and referred to Holt as both “jazzman” and “Coltrane.”
Just like the real Trump, Baldwin described Clinton in a way that sounded oddly familiar. “I have the best judgment, and the best temperament,” he said. “She’s the one with the bad temperament. She’s always screaming. She’s constantly lying. Her hair is weird and her face is completely orange. Except around the eyes where it’s white. Once she stops talking her mouth looks like a tiny little butthole.”
Instead of responding, Clinton yielded her two minutes back to Trump, who went on an unprovoked rant about “the blacks.” Asked by Holt what she thought about Trump’s comments at one moment, Clinton said, “I think I’m going to be president.” After another of his rants, she said she didn’t have a response, “more of a request: can America vote right now?”
For most of the sketch, SNL used the candidate’s exact words as parody because there was no way they could come up with anything funnier. But their respective closing statements summed up their campaigns to date even better than the candidates have been able to do themselves.
“Listen, America. I get it. You hate me,” Clinton said into the camera. “You hate my voice, and you hate my face. Well, here’s a tip: If you never want to see my face again, elect me president, and I swear to God I will lock myself in the Oval Office and not come out for four years. But if you don’t elect me, I will continue to run for president until the day I die.”
Trump, unsurprisingly, went a different direction. After bringing up Bill Clinton’s White House affair, he said, “It’s true. My investigators are looking into it right now. It was a woman named Monica. Very heavy. I don’t have her last name yet but when I get it, I’m going to set my alarm for 3:20 a.m. and go sit on my golden toilet bowl and tweet about it until completion.”
In the end, SNL perceived the debate the same way that the rest of the media and a majority of Americans did. Clinton may have been overprepared, but was clearly having the time of her life. And Trump came off like a straight-up crazy person.