After reports that the president was “rattled” by seeing his press secretary portrayed by a woman last week, it was inevitable that Saturday Night Live would try to top it. Speculation ran rampant this week that Rosie O’Donnell would replace the hooded skeleton currently representing chief strategist Steve Bannon after she posted a picture of herself photoshopped onto his body.
They end up going with their old stand-by, Alec Baldwin — who, conveniently, is also hosting — to play Trump, but they also do “Leslie Wants to Play Trump” in which Leslie Jones puts together a Trump impression.
Casting Jones as Trump is brilliant on a number of levels. It works as a commentary both on his fragile masculinity and his shakiness on race issues, but it also highlights perhaps Trump’s biggest weakness of all: That he cares about how he’s portrayed on a comedy show. An American president should be impervious to the slings and arrows of pop culture; the freedom to make jokes about the Office of the President is one of the greatest strengths of our democracy. And SNL clearly isn’t going to let up.
Best of the Night: Sean Spicer Press Conference (above)
Melissa McCarthy returns as the press secretary and, once again, juggles killer satire with silly physical comedy. There are tiny jokes, like the slaughter at Fraggle Rock, and big ones like the leaf blower contorting Cecily Strong’s face like an Air Force pilot’s centrifuge. The sketch is capped off by a podium gag so heightened that it makes you wonder how they’ll ever be able to top it.
Worst of the Night: Gym Class
The 12:50 a.m. is often where the weirdest sketches of the night go. They’re usually very high-concept, and they miss as often as they hit. Even when they miss, though, it’s often because they’re too ambitious or too obscure, and there’s some nobility in their failure. On the other hand, sometimes it’s a two-minute fart joke, as in this sketch. You’d think a fart would be guaranteed laughs, and they almost always are — there’s usually one or two people in the cast who can’t help but break onstage. But watch everybody in the back: not a single cracked smile.
Best Super Bowl Joke: Pitch Meeting
This year’s Super Bowl was inundated with commercials full of quivering-lip sincerity and declarations of national unity. Individually, the ads were heartfelt expressions of support for minorities of all stripes, but there were so many that it began to feel a bit calculated and cynical. Are corporations hopping on the social justice bandwagon just to sell a few more bags of corn chips? In this sketch, the answer is a resounding yes.
Potential Viral Hit: Russell Stover
There’s so much to love here: The well-intentioned but tone-deaf attempts to honor Black History Month; the one BHM fact about George Washington Carver that everybody knows, but is actually incorrect; the creepy little carved faces. The only thing missing is even more black history jokes. What, no Scott Joplin Maple Leaf Cremes? Thurgood Marshmallow?
*Mikey Day has only been on four months, but it feels like he’s been on screen more in that time than Sasheer Zamata has been in her two years on the show. That’s probably not true, but it still feels like it.
*How much did they spend just on that motorized podium? Like, could they sell versions of it in the NBC gift shop?
*When’s the last time they’ve done an in-show callback? Spicer mentions the president going on The People’s Court, then later in the episode, he does. Has the show ever done that?
*McKinnon’s spot-on Glenn Close in the Fatal Attraction sketch and her brief turn as an elfin Jeff Sessions more than make up for her somewhat limp Elizabeth Warren. How many people will they have to hire to replace her when she eventually leaves?
*The line of the night is from Beyoncé‘s Babies: “I heard she carried two full-grown ladies for ten years named Michelle and Kelly.” The other members of Destiny’s Child may not deserve that shade, but even they would have to acknowledge what a sick burn that is.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:35 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of SNL for free on Yahoo View.
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