A quarantine episode of Saturday Night Live was certain to be unconventional and contain some unique guest appearances. Tom Hanks “hosted” the show, which basically amounted to putting on a suit in his home and performing a monologue and saying goodbye at the end. But the show also featured a remote musical performance from Coldplay’s Chris Martin and a guest spot from Alec Baldwin, who called into Weekend Update as Donald Trump to talk coronavirus.
Coronavirus was an extremely prevalent topic on the last few live SNL episodes, and as New York City continues to be the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States it certainly makes sense that the show bring back Alec Baldwin to play Trump and address the issues at hand.
The show made sure to put an image of Baldwin-as-Trump on screen, not just the actual president. But the impression certainly carried a lot of the hallmarks of what we’ve heard from Trump during his wild daily press briefings.
“Well I’m happy to report, Colin, that America is number one in the world for coronavirus,” Trump says, sounding almost proud of the bleak feat. Pressed on this, he explained why he thinks things are going so well.
Well, my approval rating is up, my TV ratings are through the roof and every night at 7 p.m. all of New York claps and cheers about the great job I’m doing,” Trump said.
Michael Che suggested that those cheers are for hospital workers, not Trump, but he disagreed.
“You’re wrong, LeBron,” Trump said to Che. “You’re wrong.”
Both hosts pressed Trump on his inconsistent statements about coronavirus, but Baldwin’s impression remained spot on.
“I always said it was a giant hoax that everyone had to take seriously,” Baldwin said.
The later parts of Weekend Update returned to its usual joke format, including riffs on Bernie Sanders dropping out and various odd stories in a world of social distancing. But it also had a somber note, as Che acknowledged that his grandmother passed away earlier in the week. In her honor, Che asked if Jost would do a Joke Swap, which he says his grandmother wanted him to do before she died. But it was just a setup in which Jost was forced to make a racially suggestive joke at Che’s urging. Che later admitted that his grandmother had never watched the show, but the scene got a big laugh out of everyone involved, including the SNL castmembers listening in on the call and providing the laugh track for the segment.
Despite the challenges, it was refreshing to see this segment largely play out like it does in the studio. There’s something about Jost getting uncomfortable during Weekend Update that feels oddly nostalgic these days.