WHO’S IN? WHO’S OUT?
What Trump’s White House Shake-Ups Mean for ‘Saturday Night Live’
Sure, America as we know it may be coming apart at the seams. But what does it all mean for ‘Saturday Night Live’?
Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci are out. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, John Kelly and—perhaps—Stephen Miller are in. Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to be hanging on by a thread. And somehow Donald Trump is still President of the United States.
The White House has “had more people go in and out for quickies than a Las Vegas brothel,” as CNN commentator Ana Navarro put it recently. So, of course, the most important question this country faces is… what does it all mean for Saturday Night Live?
SNL doesn’t return until October, but this Thursday, Colin Jost and Michael Che will be back behind the “Weekend Update” desk for a series of primetime specials. In the past, the show has used these early opportunities to bring out additional cast members as political figures who happen to be in the news over the summer. An appearance this week by Alex Moffat and Mikey Day as Eric and Donald Trump Jr. seems like a strong possibility.
But first things first, unless Sean Spicer really does end up on Dancing with the Stars, there’s a good chance we will never again see Melissa McCarthy’s impression of the former White House press secretary. The show seemingly saw the writing on the wall when they gave her Spicer the send-off he deserved when Alec Baldwin’s Trump gave him the kiss of death during the episode McCarthy hosted this past May.
“Is this like The Godfather where you kiss me and no one ever sees me again?” Spicer asks Trump in the sketch. After Trump says “yes” and delivers his kiss, Spicer replies, “I had a good run!”
As for Priebus and Scaramucci, the former never made enough of an impression to warrant an SNL portrayal and the latter didn’t last nearly long enough to get one. That is despite the apparent excitement of SNL’s co-head writer Bryan Tucker, who tweeted, “I know SNL fans are sad about Sean Spicer. But his replacement is a guy with no government experience called ‘The Mooch.’ So it'll be fine.”
What now? Spicer’s real replacement is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by the more-than-capable Aidy Bryant, who will likely get some well-deserved time to shine. As for who becomes Trump’s White House communications director, all signs currently point to Steve Bannon acolyte Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old Santa Monica native who lives in a $1 million home and recently made a name for himself by disputing the poem on the Statue of Liberty and accusing CNN’s Jim Acosta of “cosmopolitan bias.”
Like Mario Cantone, whose Scaramucci impression burned fast and bright on The President Show, Pauly Shore has gotten out of the gate first with his Stephen Miller portrayal on Funny or Die. Meanwhile, House of Cards’ Michael Kelly has let it be known that he is willing and able to take on the role if needed. If the show is looking for stunt casting a la Baldwin and McCarthy, Paul Reubens (AKA Pee-wee Herman) could be another inspired choice. There is something particularly funny about Miller being played by someone who is literally more than twice his age.
Either that or SNL could—gasp!—cast one of its own in the role. Trump reportedly hated the idea of woman playing Spicer, worried it made him look “weak.” Just imagine how infuriating it would be for Miller if he was played by the show’s first-ever Latina cast member Melissa Villaseñor.
Another strong contender could be Kyle Mooney, who would be able to capture Miller’s uniquely nervous energy. Mooney’s cohort Beck Bennett could probably pull it off as well, but he’s busy enough playing two of Trump’s most loyal advisers: Vice President Mike Pence and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Unless Trump’s new Chief of Staff John Kelly starts spending a lot more time in the spotlight, it’s hard to imagine him factoring into SNL too much this fall. He could be a one-off cameo the way John Goodman popped up for a single episode as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this year. Perhaps recent Five-Timers Club addition and possible 2020 candidate Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is up for playing the general who wants to whip Trump’s White House into shape?
And then there is Jeff Sessions, who could very well be gone by October from his post as attorney general. That would be another blow for Kate McKinnon, who lost her chance to play President Hillary Clinton when Trump won the election, and was just starting to nail her Sessions impression by the end of last season. She can only hope that Kellyanne Conway is around for the long haul, willing to do or say anything it takes to stay in Trump’s good graces.
As for Alec Baldwin, he once “hoped” he’d never have to return to SNL after the election, but ended up riding his Trump impression all the way to an Emmy nomination he has a very good chance of winning next month. Now, it’s almost as if he has no choice but to continue playing Trump as long as he stays in the Oval Office.
If there’s one man who can single-handedly bring down the real President Trump, it’s probably Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose investigation into the administration will only ramp up this fall. Mueller seems like the kind of guy who will avoid undue attention at all costs, but if he does end up as an SNL character, my vote goes to Norm Macdonald.