Some weeks, you almost feel bad for “Saturday Night Live.” A few years into mining comedy from a news cycle that regularly stretches the bounds of reality, “SNL” went into Saturday with a presumptive target of the first week of impeachment hearings.
And, in their first crack at an event that’s happened only three other times in U.S. history, the series showed signs of fatigue with a cold open to an episode hosted by musical guest Harry Styles that was built around a tweak of its own network.
Answering a critique by an NBC pundit who said the hearings lacked “pizzazz,” “SNL” recast the hearings as an episode of “Days of Our Lives.” As the sands of the hourglass fell, “Days of Our Impeachment” imagined a windswept political drama “where the only thing at stake is democracy.”
The timing of a “Days of Our Lives” homage carried a wistful edge given this weeks’ news that the long-running soap opera has entered “indefinite hiatus,” but “SNL” offered a justification tough to argue in calling their sketch “a ridiculous melodrama that’s somehow less crazy than what’s really happening in our government.”
Jon Hamm was on hand to portray the hearings’ first-day witness in ambassador Bill Taylor, and Cecily Strong played Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to the Ukraine who President Trump attacked midway through her Friday testimony, which in the sketch caused “SNL’s” Heidi Gardner to faint in the gallery amid a swell of soapy strings. “If the president wanted to intimidate you he would’ve shot you on Fifth Avenue,” Mikey Day’s Rep. Jim Jordan argued.
Although Alec Baldwin was not on hand as the Tweeter in Chief, Kate McKinnon offered her haunting impression of Rudy Guiliani (“Mercury is in retrograde so my powers are at an all-time high,” she crowed), and Beck Bennett arrived as a frowning Mitch McConnell just before Melissa Villasenor’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Further exemplifying the kitchen sink approach, Kenan Thompson also appeared as the Cleveland Browns’ helmet-swinging defender Myles Garrett, and a consciously disinterested Pete Davidson (“Who am I playing again?”) as Michael Avenatti to remind the hearings of the president’s extramarital affair. “That story was from last season,” Hamm’s Taylor reminded him. As Davidson went on, Strong’s Yovanovitch added, “We know, no one seems to care.”
So many scandals, so little time. But save your strength, “SNL” — these hearings are just getting started.