With satirical jabs at everything from the so-called “Bowling Green Massacre” to the travel ban on majority-Muslim countries, “Saturday Night Live” delivered one of its most hard-hitting, hilarious and ambitious episodes this weekend in a show revolving around President Trump’s first two weeks in office.
Players and guests Kristen Stewart and Alec Baldwin riffed on the Mexican wall, the president’s disastrous phone calls with world leaders, his obsession with “Celebrity Apprentice” ratings and the influence of chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon — chaotic and seemingly made-for-comedy events that have marked the debut of Trump’s newest public role, POTUS.
Saturday’s had to be the commander in chief’s least favorite episode since Baldwin began lampooning his debate performances more than a year ago. (Awaiting his reaction tweet now.) From its cold opening in the Oval Office to a monologue by Stewart reading Trump’s litany of real tweets about her former relationship with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson.
But it was surprise guest Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, in a skit about the administration’s contentious relationship with the news media, that made the evening one of “SNL’s” best since it began satirizing the new president and his Cabinet.
Dressed in a suit and armed with an adversarial attitude, she addressed the room full of reporters:
“Myself and the press have gotten off to a rocky start,” she said. “And when I say rocky start I mean it in the sense of ‘Rocky’ the movie because I came out here to punch you in the face… I’d like to begin today by apologizing on behalf of you, to me, for how you have treated me these last two weeks. And that apology is not accepted!”
McCarthy’s Spicer then took questions from the reporters including one from the New York Times about “the travel ban on Muslims.”
“It’s not a ban. The travel ban is not a ban, which makes it not a ban,” said McCarthy as Spicer.
“But you just called it a ban…” replied Bobby Moynihan, portraying New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush.
“Because I’m using your words. You said ban. You said ban. Now I’m saying it back,” she retorted, and on it went until finally devolving into prop comedy.
The bit followed Stewart’s monologue, during which she admitted she was nervous because she knew Trump was probably watching.
She then outlined Trump’s interest — 11 tweets — in her former relationship with Pattinson. “We broke up and then we got back together and for some reason it made Donald Trump go insane,” she said.
She continued: “The president is not a huge fan of me. But that is so OK. And, Donald, if you didn’t like me then you’re really probably not going to like me now ‘cause I’m hosting ‘SNL’ and I’m like, so gay, dude.”
(Later, near the end of the monologue, Stewart accidentally dropped an f-bomb that was unrelated to Trump.)
A skit starring Baldwin lampooned the relationship between Trump and his advisor Bannon, former head of the far-right website Breitbart News Network.
The skit played off of question of just who is in charge, Trump or Bannon. Pundits and many on Capitol Hill have increasingly questioned the amount of influence Bannon — a man with little more political experience than Trump — has now on forming policy and making critical national decisions.
In the skit, Bannon again was depicted as the Grim Reaper. He hovered in the background, encouraging Trump to pick up the phone and make impromptu calls to leaders of allied countries — Australia, Mexico, Germany. One by one, he alienated them as Bannon rubbed his skeletal hands together, as if his plan for mass chaos and destruction was well on its way.
Who could have guessed America’s least popular presidency would be a boon for “SNL”? Just about everyone.