When is Alec Baldwin not going to show up as President Trump to kick off “Saturday Night Live” episodes?
With no other Trump impersonator given the reins, the actor keeps returning to parody the president with a scrunched-up face and long pauses that devolve into ridiculous declarations.
This week was no different. SNL writers crammed a boatload of news references into the show’s first five minutes as Baldwin played Trump, looking a little more disheveled than usual, in the middle of part two of an interview with Lester Holt, played by Michael Che. (The real-life Holt interview caused its own sets of controversies when Trump said he was thinking about the FBI’s Russia investigation when firing James B. Comey.)
From the real-life Trump’s assertion that he came up with the phrase “priming the pump” to CNN’s Anderson Cooper giving Kellyanne Conway an epic on-air eyeroll, it all got worked into the cold open. Baldwin played double duty, showing up for a shocking closer to a Sean Spicer sketch later in the episode.
During the cold open, Baldwin’s Trump refers to Holt as “jazz man,” “O.J.” and “Keenan,” and asks for his “undying loyalty.” Nope, Che’s Holt responds, who then asks about Comey.
“All I can say is I won the election fair and square, and everyone knows that,” Baldwin’s Trump says.
“Yes, Mr. President, you literally say that all the time,” Holt responds. “Your staff is insisting you didn’t fire him because of the Russian investigation.”
Baldwin-as-Trump says he actually did fire Comey “because of Russia. I thought, ‘He’s investigating Russia; I don’t like that. I should fire him.’ ”
Che’s Holt is shocked that Trump is admitting this so nonchalantly. “Wait — so did I get him? Is it this all over?” Holt asks. “Wait, no, I didn’t? Nothing matters? Absolutely nothing matters anymore? All right.”
Baldwin also went into Stephen Colbert-esqe joke territory with a bit about a misunderstood economic term. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), played by Mikey Day, shows up to serve Trump two scoops of ice cream and is told to “beat it, nerd.” And when asked to appoint a new FBI head that isn’t “crazy like Judge Judy,” Trump’s Baldwin offers this pledge: “I can promise you this right now, whoever I choose is going to be so bonkers you’re going to wish like hell it was Judge Judy.”
Finally Holt wants to know: “Mr. Trump, are you trolling us?” He points out the optics of meeting with Russian officials the day after Comey’s firing.
“Come on, you think I care about optics? I sit on every chair like it’s a toilet.”
Holt begs Trump to consider the optics because “your presidency is like the craziest show on TV, and it’s on 24 hours a day and we can’t keep up.”
That line — used to set up a joke for Baldwin about Trump’s show running for eight years with “plot twists and your favorite characters” — sounded like it could have also been an actual plea from the late-night comedy show’s writers.