The writers at “Saturday Night Live” wasted no time incorporating the latest President Trump-related news into the first few minutes of the show’s premiere.
Alec Baldwin once again returned to play Trump in Saturday’s cold open, which referenced the series of tweets real-life President Trump sent earlier in the day criticizing Puerto Rican officials’ response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
In the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump returns from a golfing outing in Bedminster, N.J., to take a call from the mayor of San Juan. “I’m sure she wants to tell me what a great job I’m doing,” Trump tells Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant.
She does not. “I’m begging you. Puerto Rico needs your help,” says Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz (Melissa Villaseñor).
“I know that things are, as the locals say, ‘despacito,’ ” Trump says, adding that help will arrive by Tuesday, “Wednesday at the latest.”
When Cruz tells him “that’s not good enough,” Trump responds, “Well, you should have paid your bills.
“Ma’am, I don’t know if you know this, but you are in an island, in the water. The ocean water, big ocean, with fishies and bubbles and turtles that bite,” Trump continues. “We want to help you, but we have to take care of America first.”
Cruz asks, “Wait, you do know we’re a U.S. territory, don’t you?”
Baldwin’s Trump contorts his mouth and holds it open for several seconds before stammering, “I mean, I do, but not many people know that.” He then hangs up on Cruz after she asked for help again, and tells Huckabee Sanders, “Wow, that woman is so nasty.”
It seems that, for the foreseeable future, SNL audiences will continue seeing Baldwin playing Trump. He just won the outstanding supporting actor Emmy for playing Trump on SNL during the last season, its most-watched in 23 years.
SNL tried to capitalize on the interest in news-driven comedy by cutting into its typical summer break and putting on prime-time editions of “Weekend Update” in August. Baldwin showed up as Trump then, and a few weeks ago, confirmed he’d also reprise the role during the new season of SNL.
But will interest wane in seeing Baldwin’s approach to the latest Trump news? Will politics continue to dominate the late-night comedy show, in a way it only really does during election years? Probably, given how heavily the rest of the late-night comedy landscape incorporates political material.
But even if you think there’s a lot of potential material to work with, the news cycle now moves at an incredibly fast pace, and that can be especially challenging for a weekly show, when what happened on Wednesday is old news by Saturday.
This week’s SNL cold open — which referenced the NFL national anthem protests and a plea from Kate McKinnon’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions for Trump not to tweet — sent a message, too, of how exhausting it may be for a comedy writer critical of Trump to keep up.
“I know it may seem like what’s coming out of my mouth is ‘b-a-n-a-n-a-s,’ but it’s all part of the plan,” Baldwin’s Trump tells Bryant’s Huckabee Sanders. “The more chaos I cause, the less people can focus. They’re all getting so tired. So tired. Let me show you: How long ago did I declare war on North Korea and little rocket man?”
She responds: “Um, four months?”
“Wrong, it was last Friday,” Baldwin’s Trump says. “See, I’m bending time.”