Either Alec Baldwin had other commitments this week, or the writers at Saturday Night Live realized just how good a thing they had going with cast regular Beck Bennett’s impression of Vladimir Putin. Either way, it was a bit of shock to find Baldwin’s Donald Trump missing from the NBC comedy show’s cold open on Jan. 21, a day after the real Trump became US president.
Instead, we got Putin.
And this Putin was rather critical, whether about Trump’s inaugural address (“It was a little bleak“), about the implications of the huge turnout at the women’s marches protesting Trump earlier in the day (“You’re not off to a great start, man”), or about Kellyanne Conway’s coat on inauguration day (“Does she work for you or is she holding the door for people at FAO Schwarz?”)
It was clever enough, but after all these months of watching Baldwin sneer and stammer his way through the campaign season and post-election transition as Trump, it would have been nice to see him finally get the chance to play an actual president.
But the real Trump was, in a sense, all over this episode, starting with a role as the primary subject of host Aziz Ansari’s opening monologue.
There also were multiple Trump mentions on the “Weekend Update” news segment with Colin Jost and Michael Che, the latter of whom found three separate occasions during the segment to make use of former US first lady Michelle Obama’s instantly famous inauguration day side-eye. (Che took the contest with this, but Jost landed a nice punch describing the Trump inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 19 featuring Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down as “the second-worst live performance Lincoln has ever attended.”)
But if Baldwin couldn’t be on hand for any of the proceedings Saturday, there was at least Kate McKinnon in her best Kellyanne Conway skit since her campaign-season hit about the indefatigable Trump advisor’s attempt to take a day off. Why does Conway continue to hitch herself to the Trump wagon? The question, posed to her during a supposed CNN appearance, prompts a Chicago-inspired sequence complete with jazz music and Fosse-esque dance moves. Eat your heart out, Roxie Hart.