No groping for laughs as Baldwin nails Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live

Reprising his SNL role as the Republican presidential candidate, actor promised to ‘do more than just grab it – I can bop it, twist it …’

If you were worried that Saturday Night Live didn’t have time to incorporate all the “pussy”-grabbing news that even the New York Times saw fit to print on Friday, Melissa Villaseñor’s cold open as Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate moderator Elaine Quijano probably struck fear into your heart.

But, luckily, the cameras lingered on “America’s dad” (Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine) and “America’s stepdad” (Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence) only as long as Americans actually did on Tuesday night.

Fact checking the #VPDebate.

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 9, 2016

After one reference to Pence’s denials that Trump was perhaps actually a short-fingered vulgarian after all, Cecily Strong interrupted the “debate” with Friday’s news than Donald Trump had been caught on camera suggesting that he liked to kiss women and paw at their genitals without consent.

Alec Baldwin-as-Trump’s response? “Are you not entertained?”

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night! #SNLinManuel

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 9, 2016

Trump then insisted on “apple-gizing”, because he couldn’t possibly apologize, and said what everyone’s been thinking since the news broke that he engaged in “locker room talk” with the Bush family scion turned entertainment television anchor: “What normal red-blooded American doesn’t want to impress the Billy Bush?”

Finally he made a vow to America’s offended women: “Listen, women, if you give me a chance, I promise I can do a whole lot more than just grab it – I can bop it, twist it ...”

And that wasn’t even a hot mic incident.

Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton was called upon for her reaction. It went about as one might expect.

Current look at @HillaryClinton. #SNLinManuel

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 9, 2016

Though, to be fair, she did attempt to address female voters who were still planning to back him.

Hillary Clinton has a message for women still voting for Trump. #SNLinManuel

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 9, 2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda then took the stage, rapping about how excited he was, as a native New Yorker, to get his chance to host an episode, while working in a couple of digs at a former host: Donald Trump. There weren’t a lot of belly laughs in it, but it was the thing that Miranda all but had to do after the success of the musical Hamilton – and it was cute and endearing.

Not throwin' away his shot. #SNLinManuel @lin_manuel

— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) October 9, 2016

His first skit, though, was not: after its adorable opening, in which Miranda played guitar and sang Blowin’ in the Wind in harmony with Strong, the skit turned into a look at an uninvited, possibly incestuous brother-sister pair who couldn’t sing. There was lots of yell-singing Footloose and Danger Zone on the stage, and probably lots of channel surfing in the television audience.

Up next was a pre-taped sketch of the cast party after a high school production of The Crucible, a musical number featuring the line “25 virgins and a lot of Sprite” and a little too much truth for non-drama-club geeks to be privy to, during which Manuel, of course, rapped.

It was only then that Leslie Jones made her first appearance as a high school principal, introducing substitute teacher Miranda to his class of inner-city students, as the “cool” high school teacher trying to teach William Shakespeare through hip-hop music. But, surprise! It was an AP English class sick of having “cool” substitute teachers use hip-hop music to teach them. (Jones got the funny line about the proliferation of Axe body spray among the high-school set, which perhaps is less funny if one spends a lot of time around American high school boys.)

McKinnon then starred in a laugh-out-loud parody of Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway’s supposed day off, which was set today, though obviously pre-taped earlier in the week. In between breakfast with the family, yoga, painting, roller skating, grocery shopping and a bath with her husband, Conway is constantly getting called into CNN by Jake Tapper to defend whatever insanity Trump has been tweeting, from claiming that Hillary Clinton cheated on her husband to suggesting that black people can’t read. Again, possibly a little too real.

Finally, viewers got to the segment this week’s news was made for: Weekend Update, which opened up with “The week we almost heard Wolf Blitzer say ‘pussy’”.

It was all the Trump jokes you wish you’d made yourself, from “Which locker room? Penn State?” to, in reference to Trump’s use of Tic Tacs to freshen his breath before going in for a non-consensual kiss: “I don’t think the problem women have with sexual assault is bad breath. It’s like Bill Cosby using a coaster for one of his love potions.”

They also offered the candy a new slogan, if its makers decided to lean into their new reputation: “Tic Tacs – grab bad breath by the pussy.”

Then, after a few jokes about Propecia, Kim Kardashian, defecating in an Apple store and the forthcoming “clown lives matter” rally, hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che introduced two undecided voters from outside of Philadelphia, played by Tina Fey (with a spot-on accent) and Jimmy Fallon (with what eventually morphed into a southern accent). Yes, Fey did crack a joke about Fallon petting Trump’s hair; it was the best line of the skit.

The back half of the show – the usual wasteland for sketches like the incestuous campfire singalong – instead featured a Miranda-fronted take-off on The Music Man, in which the con man Professor Harold Hill hawked banking products from Wells Fargo instead of band instruments and music lessons, as well as a pre-taped, mostly Spanish sketch of Miranda as a Latino dishwasher in North Dakota in a Brokeback Mountain sort of situation.

Saturday Night Live also attempted to solve the problem of Lucas’s missing parents in Stranger Things, with a “season two preview” in which Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson tell their son: “People who look like us already live in the upside down” and then hold their hands up, unprompted, when the sheriff arrives. (It probably helps if you’ve seen the show.)

Next up, the second Melania Moments (numbered 78), in which Cecily Strong’s Melania Trump awakens from a dream and the narrator says: “She could sense that her replacement had just been born in rural Latvia.” Like an evil queen, Melania ponders finding her and eliminating her rival – “not for my sake, but for hers” – as the camera pans to a portrait of Donald Trump over her bed.

The episode ended with a sketch about a soldier’s dying wish that his commanding officer go to his house, tell his wife he loved her ... and remove his extra-large butt plug from the garage. It was mostly just an excuse for everyone in the skit to say the word “butt plug” over and over again but, hey, it aired at 1.25am on a Sunday morning. Who doesn’t want to say “butt plug” repeatedly at that hour for no reason?


Megan Carpentier

The GuardianTramp

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