‘Saturday Night Live’: Alec Baldwin takes his time making fun of Trump

Saturday Night Live
Alec Baldwin & Ed Sheeran
February 12, 2017

As I’m sure you know by now, Alec Baldwin’s appearance as host of Saturday Night Live was his 17th, thereby setting a hosting record. What you might not have known is that it gave Saturday Night Live its highest ratings in six years, besting even Donald Trump’s appearance in 2015. I can’t wait to see our President’s tweet about how he got “swamped” in the ratings by the guy who impersonates him. In fact, I am going to sit here and hold my breath until that happens.

~inhales~

While we all wait for that tweet, let’s discuss the fact that even though one of the reasons so many people tuned in last night was to watch Trump be skewered, Saturday Night Live buried their only Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump sketch in the back end of the episode. It wasn’t a bad sketch — playing off a joke set up in the cold open that Trump would see the 9th Circuit Judges in People’s Court, the bit was as funny if not funnier than a lot of the Baldwin as Trump cold opens. So why put the one thing that everyone tuned in for so late in the episo– oh, wait. I just answered my own question.

Melissa McCarthy is on fire, you guys.

Yes, this is basically just a rehashing of last week’s jaw-dropping Sean Spicer sketch, except with 100% more motorized podiums. But that’s OK! Because we learned last week that McCarthy’s impersonation pissed Trump off BIGLY and his anger was directed  — wait for it — at Spicer. Why? Why would Trump be angry at the object of the impersonation?

More than being lampooned as a press secretary who makes up facts, it was Spicer’s portrayal by a woman that was most problematic in the president’s eyes, according to sources close to him. And the unflattering send-up by a female comedian was not considered helpful for Spicer’s longevity in the grueling, high-profile job in which he has struggled to strike the right balance between representing an administration that considers the media the “opposition party,” and developing a functional relationship with the press.

“Trump doesn’t like his people to look weak,” added a top Trump donor.

LOL FRAGILE MASCULINITY.

So Saturday Night Live did the obvious thing: more drag kings. This time, Kate McKinnon portrayed newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And while she was funny — because McKinnon is always funny — Saturday Night Live passed on the opportunity to use Trump’s sworn enemy, Rosie O’Donnell, to portray Steve Bannon, and possibly knock that monster down a bit in Trump’s estimation. Still! There are 7 episodes left in this season, so there’s plenty of time to prep that Bannon wig, guys.

Grade: A+

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Alec Baldwin’s monologue is here to remind you that he was very handsome back in the day and didn’t always have a giant potato head:

Grade: A-

Our commercial spoof of the night is for Russell Stover’s Black History Chocolates. As the sketch itself says, “It’s not gonna be … oh, it is.” Everything about this is perfect, from the “I Have a Cream,” Martin Luther King, Jr. chocolate to the white chocolate they included. Genius.

Grade: A+

In this sketch, two advertising teams pitch ideas for Cheeto commercials, one team pitching traditional Cheeto ad ideas, the other pitching very socially conscious ideas that have absolutely nothing at all to do with Cheetos. The idea behind the sketch is funny enough and I have no problem with it poking at political correctness. However, it really needed to be edited down — it is only 4 minutes 23 seconds long, but it feels so much longer.

Grade: B-

In one of the most over-the-top, and yet somehow subtle sketches of the night, SNL imagines Kellyanne Conway and Jake Tapper (but really the media in general) caught in a Fatal Attraction-esque relationship. If you’re, somehow, magically, not drowning in media news these days, the back story here is that in the wake of “alternative facts” and “the Bowling Green Massacre,” some media outlets, including CNN, started loudly discussing banning Kellyanne Conway from the airwaves. And in fact, CNN went so far as to decline an interview with Kellyanne — only to agree to one with her later. Underlying all of this is the fact that CNN and other media outlets are coming to terms with the fact that they willingly got into bed with the Trump campaign, airing his rallies, rarely challenging his and his surrogates lies, and now they have to face the consequences. Hide your bunnies, CNN.

Grade: A+

In a completely non-political sketch, an Army colonel is hard on a platoon in a stereotypically drill sergeant fashion — except to his son, who happens to be in the platoon. It’s weirdly sweet?

Grade: B

Here’s your “Weekend Update.” It’s fine. Contains zero attacks on feminism. FOR A CHANGE.

Grade: B

Oh, this Elizabeth Warren bit. This should have been good! It could have been so good! It’s not very good. The whole joke here is that Elizabeth Warren is a Leslie Knope-style overachiever who never stops working. Ha?

Grade: B

The “Guy Who Just Bought a Boat” bit was more successful even if it was just a braggy douchebag using nauseating slang while adding the obvious: that he has a very small penis.

Grade: B+

Oof. Look, I know what Saturday Night Live was trying to do with the 50 Shades of Grey/S&M bit, but, y’all, domestic violence isn’t funny.

Grade: C-

And an hour into the episode, Alec Baldwin makes his first appearance as Donald Trump in this People’s Court sketch. The sketch itself is fine — Cecily Strong’s Judge Milian could have been stronger. And I appreciate that it was a callback to the cold open, in which Spicer promised the 9th Circuit Judges that they would see them in People’s Court. But aside from dragging viewers into the second hour, why bury this sketch so deep into the episode? Y’all know that Trump’s attention span is only a few seconds long: if you want to irritate him, you have to put these sketches at the top of the show.

Grade: B+

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The Beyoncé twins sketch: YAY, Tracy Morgan! Boo, whatever this was supposed to be. But, seriously, all that for a joke about Destiny’s Child?

Grade: C

In this digital sketch, Leslie Jones decides she wants to play Donald Trump and sets out to follow her dream. I love that they are keeping up the Leslie and Kyle romance, and the trashing Lorne’s office bit is pretty funny, but overall, this just left me more bewildered than anything.

Grade: B

Oh, hey, here’s one long fart joke:

Grade: C+

Final Grade: B+

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Next week: Repeat of Dave Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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