As it has for two months now, Saturday Night Live portrayed the coming presidency of Donald Trump with humor but also a sense of disbelief. The inspiration for the buffoonery brought to the screen week after week by an underpaid Alec Baldwin is headed to the White House.
No surprise, the NBC sketch-comedy series’ cold open on Jan. 14 went right for the easy play. Baldwin’s Trump was holding a press conference where he was not going to talk about the recently published 35-page dossier alleging all manner of unverified impropriety by Trump and his aides that might be used against them by the Russians. This US president-elect was instead going to talk about jobs.
The sketch also offered up a lukewarm joke about Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan at the ready, a predictable dig at Trump cabinet nominee Ben Carson (“best brain surgeon to ever run the housing department”), a small treat for fans of Beck Bennett’s absurdly funny impression of a shirtless Vladimir Putin, and a brief reminder that Trump’s business ties remain a murky issue.
On. Jan. 20, Trump will take the oath of office. He will be doing so with by far the highest disapproval ratings of any recent president, based on Gallup polls taken a week before the first inaugurations of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump himself.
Trump’s change in status, from president-elect to full-fledged president, shouldn’t hurt SNL’s ability to find comedic inspiration in his actions and persona—the show has a long history of successfully skewering sitting US presidents. Will the apparent sense of disbelief that Trump is joining this elite club wear off in the SNL writers’ room once he’s sworn in? We’ll find out soon enough.
Meanwhile, enjoy the full clip of the last SNL cold open ever performed in the pre-Trump-presidency era: