Look, guys, the truth is, none of us can win. No, tonight, we are all Donald Trump”s favorite insult: losers. Donald Trump is running for president. Donald Trump hosted SNL (for the second time, lest we all forget). It happened, and all we can do is try to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and make something of the rubble left behind. And, if you feel like it, you can also read my thoughts on the episode.
Cold Open: MSNBC”s Rachel Maddow conducts the Democratic Candidates Forum. The first sketch of the night was Trump-free and decently funny, although it was also a bit of a retread of last episode”s Democratic Debate cold open. Still, some good-as-always moments from Kate McKinnon as Hillary (“But first, excuse me while I try to sit casually in this chair”) and a welcome return of Larry David as Bernie Sanders (“I don”t need no fancy introduction! I”m not Elvis Presley!”) made for a pleasantly funny start to the episode. A-
Monologue: Knowing we were all tired of seeing Trump”s face on our TVs, the crew at SNL decided to multiply it by three, having him stand next to the two men who have portrayed him on the show– Taran Killam and Darrell Hammond– and roll his eyes at how poorly he felt they captured his essence. They also brought poor Aidy Bryant out for a joke about how Trump had spent the whole week mistaking her for Rosie O”Donnell, then set up Larry David to shout from the audience that Trump is a racist because a protest group offered to pay $5,000 to anyone who did so. Trump wasn”t given too many opportunities to poke fun at himself which was honestly a good thing, but frustratingly it did give him a chance to proclaim on stage that “the truth is I”m a nice guy.” Mercifully, the whole affair was pretty short. C-
Melania for First Lady: A vision of what 2016 could look like under President Trump ends with a promotion for Melania Trump as America”s First Lady. This sketch, I think, was meant to make fun of Trump by proving that even an America in which all of his crazy plans worked would be an unsettling America, but it essentially played out like the writers wrote down everything people think of when they think of Trump (“He says huge weirdly!” “He”s super racist about Mexicans!” “Hey guys, remember Omarosa?”) and then wrote one mediocre joke for each of them. Most of the performers looked like they were in a hostage situation in which their kidnapper was forcing them to perform a play he wrote. Trump stumbled through every line. The audience barely laughed. It was all a bummer. D-
Bad Girls: Soundtracked by M.I.A”s Bad Girls, the ladies of SNL gleefully partake in mildly rebellious activity. I”m liking these recurring pre-taped segments for the female cast– first, the throughline of (Do It On My) Twin Bed and Back Home Baller, now this Bad Girls sketch as a spiritual successor to last season”s take on Sara Bareilles”s Brave. While I thought the Brave sketch was funny, overall I felt this one was an improvement, and a great showcase for all of the women involved. Ending on Aidy Bryant cheerfully leaving her “bad girls for life” to rejoin her husband was adorable and a clever final note, and I laughed out loud at Leslie Jones”s insistence that the fourth member of her party was “in the bathroom… the bathroom at her house!” Plus, no Trump! A-
Trump Tweets: Trump live-tweets insults about various SNL cast members while they perform a sketch in which he isn”t featured. The best Trump-related sketch of the night, and while that doesn”t mean all that much, I will concede that this one was decently funny. One of the reasons Donald Trump hosting SNL is a bad idea is that Donald Trump is funnier as a concept than as a real person/Presidential candidate; this sketch worked by taking his physical presence out of the equation. Trump has plenty of flaws, but his twitter is a goldmine of unintentional comedy (#neverforget “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure,it's not your fault”), so going to that well was wise on the writers” parts. The sketch did a decent job of getting some jabs in, ending with Leslie Jones running off stage to confront Trump after his use of the phrase “the blacks” (which he recently said in real life! When someone was professionally interviewing him! You know, the guy who a lot of people want to run our country!). C
Hotline Bling: Drake shows off his Hotline Bling dance moves alongside the men who”ve been doing them for years, like physics teachers chaperoning homecoming dances and drunk guys when their team scores. This was mostly a tweet you might chuckle at turned into a full-length comedy sketch. It made me smile a bit, but also– yes, Drake dances like a dad and is overall dad-esque; the internet has established this, and we probably didn”t need another sketch to remind us. The Ed Grimley inclusion was a nice touch, and I will say that Trump gave this performance his all more than in many other bits he was featured in, but I think that just made me more uncomfortable. C
Weekend Update: Overall not a bad edition of Update. Jost and Che”s chemistry seems to be improving every week, and Leslie Jones and Drunk Uncle are always good guests. Leslie”s bit wasn”t as funny this week as some of her others in the past, but Drunk Uncle was great as usual. It was smart to bring out the character we find funny for all the same reasons we find the concept of Donald Trump as president funny; it provided a good vehicle for Trump jokes without overtly heckling the host. And Moynihan was in fine form tonight, slurring perfectly as he explained his love for Trump: “Finally, Colin– someone is saying the things that I”ve been thinking, as well as saying!” Drunk uncles across America would agree. B+
Bar Band: A band playing in a local bar gives each member a solo on their given instrument, but their laser harp player is frustrated that by the time they reach his solo, the audience is no longer paying much attention. Perhaps in another world this could have been a decent 12:55am slot sketch. You”d laugh a little and mostly forget about it by the next day. But while Donald Trump certainly has the general aesthetic of a down-and-out local laser harpist, he didn”t have the acting chops to pull this one off. His delivery was stilted and the flow of the sketch felt off throughout, resulting in a pretty cold reaction from the audience. This one should have been saved for the end of the night, if even included at all. D+
Mr. Crocker: A suburban dad tries to bond with his family and his daughter”s new boyfriend by playing demo recordings of himself singing popular songs, eventually breaking under the pressure from the shady local record producer he is working for. Beck Bennett really gave it his all with this one, and his meltdown over his own demos (“Does it?” “What?” “SUCK?”) was the perfect Good Neighbor mixture of funny and uncomfortable. But much like the 2016 presidential election, this one worked a lot better before Donald Trump showed up. It was the kind of absurdist sketch that it”s hard to find a proper ending for, but it felt like leaving record producer Stacy Steve as an enigma would have worked better than shooing him in as a Trump cameo at the end. Overall, though, this combined with Bad Girls made the pre-taped bits the clear winners of the night. B+
Porn Stars– Donald Trump: The two ex-porn stars make a campaign video for Donald Trump in the hopes of living in one of his hotels. Bayer and Strong were dependable as always, and Bobby Moynihan made a welcome appearance with a Trump impression that rivaled Killam”s, even though he was actually playing Ronald McDonald McTrump, clown-themed political porn producer (“And to my clown college professor who said ‘You might as well be doing pornos,” I”m suddenly realizing you were being sarcastic”). Donald Trump popped in at the end to say that he “in no way, shape, or form” approved the message. So don”t forget, guys– Donald Trump: he”s cool with building a wall between the U.S. and mexico, but not with former porn stars campaigning for him. B+
Quotes, Extras, and Final Thoughts:
- Which language would Hillary Clinton most like to learn? “I think I”d say casual English.”
- “That”s right– I”m Bernie Sanders, and I want your vacuum pennies.”
- Kate McKinnon isn”t willing to let all this rebellion get too far in the Bad Girls video– “It”s time to leave the tip. I think you know what I”m gonna do… I”m gonna still tip 20% because being a server is hard and you don”t know what”s going on in her day today.”
- “What do you think he just tweeted? Probably something with, like, Kenan and Kenyan, right?”
- Thoughts on the Musical Guest: Sia”s faceless performance art is the kind of thing that sounds like it would bug me the most, but I actually kind of like it. I”m enjoying this two-tone wig and painted cheek eyes phase she”s entered. Her dancer tonight was great, but she wasn”t Maddie from Dance Moms, which knocks this performance down a few pegs in my book. This has been Thoughts on the Musical Guest
- Che: “This week Colin Jost spent three days in his dressing room, crying like a bitch.” Jost: “And then I found out the Mets lost!”
- “Is this apple watch gender neutral?” “Yeah, I”m afraid of George Lopez!” Drunk Uncle is still the drunkest uncle around.
- Che on Trump”s new book Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again: “While some are taking offense at the use of the word ‘crippled,” I”m more concerned about the use of the word ‘again”– like, what years are you talking about specifically, dude?”
- That bar band sketch was mostly a disaster, but props to the costumers for everything happening in that scene clothing-wise. It was a sight to behold.
- Also, just learned that laser harps are a real thing!
- Ronald McDonald McTrump”s political porns include “All the President”s Men, Plus a Horse,” “Lee Daniel”s ‘In the Buttler,”” and “Milk.”
Guys, we did it! Donald Trump hosted SNL and we made it through! We can do anything! Next week, Elizabeth Banks, who hopefully won”t accuse immigrants from Mexico of being criminals in the next week.