February 5, 2017 at 1:25 AM
Is this how every "Saturday Night Live" cold open will go during the rest of the Donald Trump presidency — cramming jokes from an unbelievably busy news week into a 4-minute takedown?
This week, there were references to the "Bowling Green massacre" (more on what that is, or rather isn't, here). "The Apprentice" ratings came up — just as they did during the real life National Prayer Breakfast. Even Frederick Douglass got a mention as "a very important up-and-comer."
Alec Baldwin returned to the role of President Trump, and places some pretty disastrous phone calls to fellow world leaders — all while egged on by an evil Stephen K. Bannon character.
Baldwin will host SNL next week. The real-life President Trump has repeatedly criticized SNL and singled out Baldwin's impersonation. In December, Trump said, "I don't think that his imitation of me gets me at all and it's meant to be very mean-spirited, which is very biased, and I don't like it."
This week's cold open began with Baldwin asking an aide whether daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, are around. "They always keep me so calm and make sure I don't do anything too crazy," he says.
No, an aide tells him, as they don't work on the Sabbath.
"Perfect: when the Jews are away, the goys will play," Baldwin-as-Trump says. "Send in Steve Bannon."
In rolls a ghoulish, skeletal character, intended to be the senior White House strategist. This isn't the first time SNL had what's basically the grim reaper portray Bannon. "Hello, Donald. I have arrived," the fake Bannon says.
"Steve, you look rested," Baldwin-as-Trump quips. "Not me, I've had a long day. I'm tired and cranky. And I feel like I could just freak out on somebody."
And so go the phone calls, with Bannon nudging Trump to make them as even as they go quite disastrously.
To the Australian Prime Minister, the Trump character says, "No, no refugees. America first, Australia sucks, your reef is failing, prepare to go to war."
Trump asks Bannon if the call went poorly. "No, it went just according to plan," Bannon replies.
Next, a call to the Mexican president, as Trump says he has a "smart diplomatic way to get them to pay for the wall."
Trump tells President Enrique Peña Nieto, "guy who's going to pay for the wall says 'What?'"
Nieto doesn't fall for it. Later, Trump unsuccessfully again: "Hello, congratulations, you've just won a free cruise for two to Hawaii. All you need is your country's credit card number."
Bannon suggests calling Germany, with Chancellor Angela Merkel answering the phone, "Hello? Is this my sweet Barack? Barack Obama, I miss you."
Then, Bannon urges Trump to call "some random little country to show them who's boss."
So the president dials Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.
"You think you are a real dictator?" Mugabe asks. "I will rip out your spine and drink from your skull! You cannot even walk down stairs, you little white b—-! Don't you ever call Zimbabwe again!"
By the end of the sketch, it's clear that Bannon is calling the real shots — "that's enough fun for tonight," and he asks Trump for his desk back.
"Yes, of course, Mr. President," Trumps says, as he retreats to a miniature desk and plays with a toy.