Melissa McCarthy steals the show as Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live

Grim Reaper-esque Steven Bannon encourages Donald Trump to tell Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull ‘your reef is failing’

After a brief absence, Alec Baldwin returned to Saturday Night Live this weekend with his now infamous Donald Trump impression, but it was Melissa McCarthy’s unexpected arrival as the White House press secretary Sean Spicer that was the show’s finest and most necessary satire this week.

McCarthy’s Spicer came out yelling at the assembled press corps, pounding gum and tossing out threats to the journalists while admitting that “I don’t talk so good”. It was an inspired piece of casting; McCarthy, who’s become a reliable SNL host in recent years, excels at characters who teeter right on the edge of sanity.

With Spicer, she’s found a perfect real world example of someone barely keeping it all together – addressing Trump’s prime time announcement for his supreme court nominee, he assured the press: “Everyone was smiling, everyone was happy, the men all had erections, and every single one of the women was ovulating left and right.”

Spicer even turned to prop comedy at one point, explaining the president’s fight against radical “moose-lambs” with stuffed animals and resorting to squirting a reporter with a water gun. With the celebrity cameo and the topical subject matter, it felt like a cold open – it even ended with a fake “Live from New York” – and probably should have been.

Instead, the real cold open focused on the president’s disastrous week of foreign phone calls, with a Grim Reaper-esque Steven Bannon encouraging Trump to tell the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, that “your reef is failing”, to trick the president of Mexico into paying for his border wall, and to brag about the size of his inauguration crowds to Angela Merkel, who answered the phone optimistically, “Is this my sweet Barack?”

It ended with a phone call to Zimbabwe, where a furious Robert Mugabe put Trump in his place, which harkened back to perhaps Trevor Noah’s finest Daily Show segment to date.

Other key sketches for the night included:

A pre-tape video from border control, now roughly re-edited to account for the seven countries that now require extra immigration vetting, “and maybe Australia, we’ll see”. The new dubbed voiceover cuts in to promise “there will be someone - NO ONE! - to help you” as visitors navigate the now insanely complex process of entering the US.

A seemingly innocuous take on bro-tastic football commercials, where a complacent wife (Vanessa Bayer) who promises to bake up some frozen foods for “her hungry guys”, turns sexy and quite sweet when she falls for her husband’s friend’s sister. “What’s your name?” asks the sister, guest host Kristen Stewart. “I’ve never had one,” Bayer responds quietly.

Despite a few cue-card reading flubs, Weekend Update had a strong showing. Colin Jost reacted to the judicial block on the president’s Muslim ban by noting that “getting temporarily blocked is just foreplay”, while Michael Che reflected on what it means to target radical Muslims: “I have a Muslim friend, he doesn’t eat pork and he doesn’t have sex with white women. To me, that’s mad radical.”

Contributor

Elise Czajkowski

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Melissa McCarthy takes on Sean Spicer once more
White House press secretary Sean Spicer – and his ineptitude – are a hit once more as Alec Baldwin hosts for a record 17th time

Elise Czajkowski

12, Feb, 2017 @10:20 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Melissa McCarthy's magnetism glosses over weaker moments
Alec Baldwin returns as Donald Trump being interviewed by a dismayed Lester Holt, played by Michael Che

Elise Czajkowski

14, May, 2017 @5:41 AM

Article image
How Saturday Night Live and late-night comics took aim at Sean Spicer
The resignation of the White House press secretary comes after months of US comedy shows mocking his many gaffes

Guardian staff

21, Jul, 2017 @6:03 PM

Article image
Alec Baldwin cast as Donald Trump for Saturday Night Live
The 30 Rock actor will take over the part and can be seen in a new teaser for this weekend’s season opener opposite Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton

Benjamin Lee

28, Sep, 2016 @8:10 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Baldwin is a flawless Trump but spoof falls flat
The show’s season premiere relies heavily on election gags but needs to develop more substance to regain legendary status

Elise Czajkowski

02, Oct, 2016 @11:00 AM

Article image
No groping for laughs as Baldwin nails Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live
Reprising his role as the Republican president candidate, actor promised to ‘do more than just grab it – I can bop it, twist it …”

Megan Carpentier

09, Oct, 2016 @3:16 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Scarlett Johansson gives political jokes some bite
Actor, who impersonated Ivanka Trump, hosts for the fifth time and presides over an episode of pure goofiness

Elise Czajkowski

12, Mar, 2017 @7:04 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: the most memorable cameos of the Trump era
With Matt Damon taking on the role Brett Kavanaugh, who else has proved most successful in the show’s A-list White House?

Zach Vasquez

02, Oct, 2018 @2:44 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Baldwin is back as Trump for 'worst ever presidential debate'
Debate hosts take a shot and introduce ‘President Hillary Clinton’ for debate featuring plenty of suspicious circling and even a bit of a dance

Elise Czajkowski

16, Oct, 2016 @6:50 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: even Trump smooching Putin couldn't hide the election blues
Benedict Cumberbatch tried and Bill Murray – hilariously – didn’t, but either way the prospect of what looms this week cast a pall over proceedings

Megan Carpentier

06, Nov, 2016 @7:18 AM