Just how was “Saturday Night Live” going to tackle the pageantry, protests and news conferences that dominated President Trump’s inauguration and first day in office?
By unleashing Vladimir Putin.
Alec Baldwin, who has been playing Trump since the fall in a parody that Trump himself has repeatedly criticized as mean-spirited and bad, didn’t reprise the impersonation in the first post-inauguration episode. Instead, SNL kicked off with a bare-chested Putin (played by Beck Bennett), giving advice to the newly sworn-in president and reassuring those Americans who are displeased.
“Today many of you are scared and marching in the streets,” Bennett as Putin says. “You are worried that your country is in the hands of this unpredictable man. But it’s not. I promise that we will take care of America. It’s the most expensive thing that we’ve bought.”
Sketch writers made the bulk of the segment about events that had taken place in the past few hours. Earlier in the day, Trump appeared at the CIA to deliver remarks, where he falsely claimed that approximately one million people came to his inauguration. Then as thousands of demonstrators convened on Washington for the Women’s March, Trump’s press secretary told reporters in the White House briefing room that “this was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period.”
Bennett as Putin addressed the crowd size fiasco: “Donald, let’s talk as friends. You’re not off to a great a start, man. I thought you’d be better at this. However, I am happy so many people came to your inauguration.”
A photo of people marching flashed on the screen, and he added: “Oh, wait, that’s the women’s march. Here’s the inauguration.” Then a photo from Friday, which shows some empty white panels on the National Mall, was shown to cheers.
“And today you went to the CIA and said one million people came to see you in Washington, D.C.,” Putin on SNL continued. “If you’re going to lie, don’t make it so obvious. Say you’re friends with LeBron James, not that you are LeBron James.”
In the past, Trump has taken time to tweet his displeasure with how SNL pokes fun at him and has declared that the “terrible show” may not be on for much longer. So far, he hasn’t done the same as president — although he is still tweeting about television ratings.