Donald Trump is proving uniquely impervious to the usual techniques of shame and embarrassment, whether by intelligence agencies or the writers at Saturday Night Live. But his administration offers plenty of other characters for the comedy sketch show to turn to when the pouting and hand-gesturing of Alec Baldwin’s presidential impression could use some time off.
Already the NBC series has depicted White House senior strategist Steve Bannon as the grim reaper—a rather fitting representation based on his fixations with destruction and power. And it has played Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway as a Roxy Hart-style character who’s in it strictly for the attention and adulation.
But two new impressions tested out during the Feb. 4 episode required no such stretch in interpretation. The absurdities explored here were captured easily just by sticking close to reality.
First up, special guest Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant turn as White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Aside from some exaggerated movements with the White House press briefing room podium, she played the combative communications chief fairly close to real life—arguing with reporters, downing insane amounts of chewing gum, and insisting on fiction as fact. “I would like to begin today by apologizing on behalf of you, to me, for how you have treated me these last two weeks. And that apology is not accepted.”
Next to the podium was Betsy DeVos, Trump’s not-yet-confirmed pick for US education secretary, portrayed by SNL star Kate McKinnon. Here, too, there was little need for anyone to get wildly imaginative. McKinnon played DeVos almost exactly as she was at her Senate confirmation hearing—quiet, awkward, and unable to answer basic questions about public school pedagogy.
All in all, it was a long skit, with a running time of eight minutes and room to tighten some of the Spicer comments (ok, he’s rude to reporters, we get it). But eventually it had to wrap up. SNL had a show to get on with—actress Kristen Stewart was hosting—and the White House had things to do, too. McCarthy’s Spicer said Trump’s calendar included an afternoon encore screening of Finding Dory. “Then at 6pm he’s going to abolish the national parks system.”