Donald Trump hosting “SNL” was a novelty that quickly grew tiresome (just like his campaign). Neither funny nor controversial, the episode felt every bit like the business deal it was; NBC got the “Trump Bump” and The Don got to reach all of his adoring voters through the magic of cable.
The cold open like many recent “SNL” episodes took a political turn. In this instance, the three remaining Democratic candidates fielded questions from Rachel Maddow. Kate McKinnon’s zealous Hillary Clinton returned, as did Larry David’s codgerly impression of Bernie Sanders. Traditionally, the host doesn’t appear in the cold open, but it did seem like a wasted opportunity not to have Trump face off with his Democratic counterparts – at least in “SNL” form.
When “SNL” has a host with no real comedic talent, they usually bring out cast members during the monologue, which is exactly what they did. Trump impersonators past (Darrell Hammond) and present (Taran Killam) showed up and did the usual shtick. The only lively moment in the monologue was when Larry David showed up to call Trump a racist (half in jest and half to collect the $5000 bounty to do so).
Although “SNL” has been hit-or-miss with its sketches as of late (chalk it up to the departures of Hader and Wiig), this episode felt peculiarly lifeless. One can imagine Trump vetting every single sketch so as not to offend his core base that has proven again and again to be incapable of taking offense. One sketch is borderline propaganda, imagining a Trump White House where the American people revolt because they are so tired of “winning.” However, Trump elicited a strong laugh with his cringeworthy dance moves in the already viral Hotline Bling parody.
The closest to attacking Trump comes in Weekend Update where the popular “Drunk Uncle” character (Bobby Moynihan) expressed his admiration for Trump. Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like. After Weekend Update though, the rest of the sketches fall flat. There were throwaway premises that were silly in a bad way; laser harps, record producers and porn stars are involved. Trust me, it’s not as entertaining as it sounds.
The Trump-less moments were the saving grace of the show, particularly Sia’s performances. With a hairpiece to rival Trump’s, she electrified the stage with her single “Alive” which had a gospel twist. Another highlight was the music video “Bad Girls” which is an ode to those wicked things we do every day like leave the ice-cream in the bread isle.
When the episode was finally over, I was faced with the realization that although I could turn off the TV, this man was still a reality.