On Saturday night Saturday Night Live once again trotted out Alec Baldwin to lampoon President Trump. It had been a little while since they had done so, with Baldwin’s last appearance coming nearly a month ago. With Baldwin/Trump bits usually taking place during the cold open, the show has opted to go with a Roger Stone bit featuring Steve Martin as Stone one week and a Meet the Press sketch that centered around the Jeff Bezos’ scandal the next week. Both of those were okay. Not great, not terrible, which is becoming an increasingly relevant way to judge SNL these days. Yet the one thing they did have going for them that they didn’t include Baldwin’s Trump.
Going back to over a year ago, I was of the opinion that they should give Baldwin’s Trump a break. Between the Trump Presidency already reaching the point of absurdity where it was no longer funny and the sketches Baldwin appeared in just not being that good anymore, I just felt it was time to press pause on the whole thing. A side effect (a positive one) would be that it could actually infuriate Trump more by being ignored as opposed to being made fun of.
Now for some reason, Lorne Michaels and the folks at SNL chose to ignore a blog such as this one. Guys, I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed. Despite my objections, they kept the gig going through the rest of the show’s 43rd season and into their 44th season, although Baldwin didn’t appear until the season’s third episode. The novelty had long worn off, the jokes were stale, the impression now flat and most importantly, the subject matter the show was working off of had become so outlandishly depressing and absurdly tragic that it had become almost impossible to successfully make fun of. The late night shows, shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, were able to keep up because a lane still existed for them. Commentary is one thing, spoofing is another.
I mean, let’s be honest. How do you spoof Trump talking about the “floors” of the forest when it’ll never compare to how hilarious it was in real life?
Hilarious, but also sad. Our country is screwed.
Saturday Night Live has been put into a lose/lose situation due to real life circumstances and as a result, would be wise to consider changing things up a bit. Baldwin was great at first, okay after the shine was gone and now it feels forced. The show promotes his appearances still as if it’s a good thing. That’s almost laughable in it’s own right. People who watch the show, watch it regardless. The guests are usually just a bonus. And if you don’t watch and something noteworthy happens, then that’s what social media is for. But when was the last time a Baldwin/Trump bit legitimately went viral? Without bothering to check, I’d have to imagine the show’s best viral moments this season have either come from one of Chris Redd’s rap bits or John Mulaney and Pete Davidson reviewing The Mule.
On a related note, I would happily watch a weekly show where those two review movies. Or other pop culture events. Of course I’m speaking for myself here because for some reason, no one with Saturday Night Live reads this blog, which is shame. They most likely missed out on my hot takes about Christmas movies. Their loss.
But this Baldwin/Trump problem is a problem worth solving. We need to laugh about this bizarre world we are currently living in or we’ll all go bananas. I like solutions. I live for solutions. So I’m here to offer up a couple, which no one at Saturday Night Live will read, but I’m offering them up anyway.
Solution 1: Let Kenan Do Trump
Earlier this season, the show debuted “Them Trumps,” in which they asked the question, what if Trump were black? The result is that obviously he wouldn’t be able to get away with half the stuff he’s doing. Because he’s, you know, black. And this is America.
The sketch is fine. I don’t know what kind of legs it has because the premise is pretty thin, but really, anytime Kenan Thompson is involved, it’s generally a win for the show. And while the premise might in fact be a little one note, the idea is fun. So why not transfer the idea over to him doing Trump all the time? Remember how great the “Black Bush” sketches were on Chappelle’s Show? SNL could capture some of that by giving Kenan the gig. Hell, comparisons between Chappelle’s Black Bush and Trump are already out there, so why not run with it? As good as Will Ferrell was as Bush, I think the version of Bush people remember better and more fondly is Chappelle’s. It was more original and just funnier.
It’d be a little bit of a left turn for SNL though and I’m not sure they’d be willing to take such a chance. They may have even tipped their hand a while back when they ran a sketch featuring Leslie Jones lobbying to play Trump and how the idea was so outlandish.
Yet if there was ever a time for the show to take a big swing, this would be it.
And speaking of big swings, how about this one?
Solution 2: Give Kyle Mooney the Gig
Here me out on this one.
While Mooney’s impressions aren’t his strong point, his ability to create and play super weird and awkward characters is. Speaking for myself, I find myself laughing at his stuff on the show more than anyone else on the cast not named Kate McKinnon. Mooney has been a fringe player since he showed up a few years ago, but I think it’s time he gets a lead gig and what better gig than playing Trump?
Think about it. Mooney could create a truly twisted version of Trump, one unsure of what he’s doing and forced to fake his way through the basic jobs of being president, things the real Trump is most likely doing in real life. Mooney’s Trump could be a stumbling idiot full of false bravado, a character that hits at the core of the ridiculous man child most of us see Trump as. Part of what made Chappelle’s Bush so much fun was that he was basically taking real things Bush said and delivering him through an entirely different character. That’s what Mooney could do.
Also, if Trump hates how he’s been portrayed now, imagine how pissed he’d be at seeing someone of Mooney’s physical stature playing him?
Solution 3: Just Don’t Have Anyone Do It
Yeah, how about no one does Trump? How about they ignore him all together and instead, focus on all the madness and wack jobs surrounding him? This would give more time to the show’s excellent portrayal of Don Jr. and Eric Trump or allow McKinnon to have more opportunities to do whatever she wants, which is what the show should be encouraging her to do.
Also, why does every episode have to have a politically-centric cold open? I can’t even remember when they opened with something else. I’m sure the bulk of the show’s cold opens, certainly the best ones, are somehow related to the week’s biggest current events, but it could be fun to branch out and tackle other topics. Like for instance, I don’t think enough has been made about Drake purchasing a phone case for $400,000. I’m not saying that’s worth a cold open, but it could at least be worth being put in the running.
I do understand that not having someone ready to play the President could be tricky, though. So what about using a puppet or something? If we can all agree that Trump acts like a badly behaved toddler, why not bring in a real toddler and have them play the role? SNL going with the Grim Reaper to portray Steve Bannon was an inspired choice. They could do something along those lines with Trump.
Or just don’t do anything and don’t have anyone play Trump. I’ve said this already, but if the show really wanted to make fun of Trump, ignoring might be the best way to do it. Trump might hate how the show portrays him, but he most likely loves that they do because it gives him a target to lash out at on Sunday mornings. It also gives him attention, which along with an enemy is what he thrives off of. Why not strip him of both? If the show were to go this route, Trump might try and claim it as a victory initially, saying that he drove them to drop the Trump impression. But once that wears off, he’ll change his tune and things will get dark fast.
Saturday Night Live has never been one to go super bold, but things are ripe for super bold moves right now. So if there was ever a time to do it, it would be now.