When NBC announced it would welcome presidential candidate and empty popcorn bag rotting in the sun Donald Trump as host of Saturday Night Live, the country was generally aghast. Not only is hosting while running for president essentially unheard of, but the network had months before severed ties with Trump after he revealed himself over and over again to be unapologetically racist.
Still, I would drink drinks and cover the television Event for Jezebel because I am a trooper and it was an historic moment regardless of whether I wanted to recognize it. It would probably be some kind of glorious train wreck anyway.
But it was not a glorious train wreck. It was a tedious, unfunny hour-and-a-half long campaign ad, to which neither Trump nor the cast nor the writers seemed dedicated. And about which I am unable to write with humor or perspective because I feel as if all the life-sustaining liquids in my bod have been wrung out onto the floor.
Perhaps because of television’s “equal time” rule which requires networks to offer equal time to every political candidate, Trump was absent from the majority of the episode—Variety measured his screen time at only 12 minutes of the 1.5-hour program. But his presence was fucking everywhere, mostly in the form of self-referential sketches where his name was either discussed or on screen the entire time. Let’s take a look:
This four-minute talk seems to have been the point of booking him since it was the only time he really had anything to do. His second joke, which he delivered to truly tepid laughter, ignited my internal rage fire, which would continue to burn until I went to sleep heaving at 2 a.m.:
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Donald, you’re the most amazing guy. You’re brilliant, you’re handsome, you’re rich, you have everything going. The world is waiting for you to be president, so why are you hosting Saturday Night Live?” he said. “And the answer is, I have really nothing better to do.”
The thing is, he was clearly desperate to be on the show—far more than SNL was to have him, I continue to hope—and that exhausting juxtaposition made for thoroughly uncomfortable television. Watch the rest of the monologue to see Larry David (who was there to play Bernie Sanders in the cold open) call him a racist as a bit, and to see Trump flanked by Taran Killam and Darrell Hammond’s Trumps.
White House 2018
This sketch is notable in that it is the one sketch that Trump is allowed to be in the entire time and for the best schadenfreude moment of the night: when the real Ivanka Trump entered TO NO APPLAUSE. It was terrible and delicious and I screamed. Watch it here.
This was the sketch during which this episode of SNL lost the very small amount of good will I had for it. Trump introduces it by saying, “I hate to break it to you guys, but I’m not gonna be in the next sketch. It was too busy, and I was too busy and I just didn’t want to rehearse. But you know what? It’s still going to be great. And since I can’t do it and be in it, I’ll do the next best thing: I’ll live tweet it.”
A few things:
- This above-it-all shtick Trump has so obnoxiously cultivated doesn’t work when he is hosting a comedy show. Don’t fucking host it if you don’t want to. Nobody wants you here!
- He didn’t live-tweet it. If they are going to do this bit, at least have his actual Twitter account play along.
- The rest of the cast valiantly made it through the sketch, which featured “Trump” tweeting nasty stuff about the actors. The Trump tweets were not written in a convincing “Trump” voice. Lame.
- It left me feeling more alone than ever.
Hotline Bling Parody
We knew SNL would have to come up with some sort of “Hotline Bling” parody. We didn’t know that it would involve seconds of Trump as a “tax attorney” dancing like an asshole. I will not gif it out of protest. Trump does not deserve to be giffed while trying to be funny.
Side note: Martin Short clearly peer-pressured Lorne Michaels into this appearance. That guy is available.
In this filler sketch, Trump’s character named “Gene Breads” feels he is getting a shorter solo because he plays the laser harp. It is possibly an allusion to the stacked Republican debates. Either way, it is a joyless waste of time.
Beck Bennett plays a dad who is beholden to a producer named Stacy Steve played by Trump. This one isn’t available online, probably because it sampled a number of Top 40 songs. Other than Bennett’s dad-singing (which was charming), you didn’t miss anything.
I normally love Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong’s porn stars-turned-spokespeople, and this sketch definitely had the most good jokes crammed into it. But the premise was that they were attempting to do a Trump campaign ad so that they could stay in one of his hotels for free, and even though they kept referring to him as “Donald Tramp,” the sketch kept his real name on screen the entire time. Even if the show’s heart wasn’t behind it, how was it not SNL actually doing a campaign ad for Trump? Watch here.
And that was it.
There were a few Trump-free highlights, including a video from the SNL ladies to M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls Do It Well” and an appearance from Drunk Uncle, who made the one satisfying Trump joke of the evening: “We both love White Russians.”
My one surviving hope after a truly torturous evening of television is that the show’s writers and actors purposefully punted the show (or, in Jezebel Managing Editor Erin Ryan’s words, “took a knee for America”). I will continue to believe.
But as a general note, SNL producers, you already enraged the nation by giving a bigot such an enormous platform—tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement that you’re doing it is not as charmingly redeeming as you might think it is.
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Image via NBC.