With that in mind, SNL faced what has become an increasingly common challenge during the past few years: How do you satirize a reality that’s so unrealistic it already feels like satire? Last week, the show highlighted our political reality’s ridiculousness by placing it in the context of something even more ridiculous: a soap opera. By reimagining the impeachment hearings as “Days of Our Impeachment,” the show managed to recreate actual moments from the hearings with the addition of swelling music or character fainting upon hearing the president was tweeting. The setup also allowed for insane moments that didn’t occur, such as Melissa Villaseñor’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) swinging by to make out with Jon Hamm’s top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr.
This week, the show took a creative step back by skipping the actual hearings entirely and instead focusing on Trump himself. Back in the fray was Alec Baldwin — the very one who has supposedly retired the role several times — and his tired Trump impersonation.
The sketch finds his Trump on the White House lawn, preparing to board Marine One while attempting to duck questions from the press about the hearings. He knows the reporters present want to ask about “this impeachment nonsense,” and he’d love to answer, he says, but “as you can see from this very loud, running helicopter behind me, I’m in a big, big hurry right now, so I don’t really have the time. But everything is perfect.”
One asks about U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s “damning testimony about your illegal dealings with Ukraine.” SNL’s Trump says he can’t hear the reporters over the helicopter, but he believes the reporter said, “Sondland’s testimony completely exonerated me, and I totally agree.”
He even copped to taking notes from the testimony in “the biggest, fattest, blackest magic marker I could find,” a reference to actual notes captured in a now-viral photograph that he carried in the real world when addressing reporters outside Marine One that, as The Washington Post reported, were “written in Trump’s distinctive script and quickly began to make the rounds online.” In the sketches, he then shows the reporters the notes, which read, “I want nothing. I want nothing. I want no quid pro quo.”
The show’s Trump then goes on to say he doesn’t know Sondland, though when the reporters point out that the man donated $1 million his inauguration and that Trump appointed him to the E.U., Trump says, “Well I know him, but I don’t ‘know him know him.' I never, like, met him in person.”
Cue the night’s host Will Ferrell wandering out as Sondland and the two speaking over each other for a moment. Baldwin’s Trump eventually says, “It’s so great to finally meet you for the first time, by the way.” To which Ferrell’s Sondland replies, “Oh, right, right, right. Keep the quid pro quo on the low-low.”
He adds, “I just want to go on the record and say, ‘You guys need to lay off my boy.' Everybody loves his ass. Ukraine, Russia. They’ll do anything for that man. I know; I asked.”
SNL’s Trump then repeats that there was no quid pro quo, to which Ferrell’s Sondland says, “There definitely was.”
And that’s it. The whole sketch.
The cold open, clocking in at under four minutes, was also the shortest in recent memory. The reason probably has something to do with Will Ferrell hosting the show and a desire to give him as much time as possible throughout the night. Still, for a week during which so many headlines in mainstream newspapers such as this one felt like they were pulled straight from the Onion, this cold open left us feeling decidedly, well, cold.