Sean Spicer is the ideal character for Melissa McCarthy to play. The best parts of Bridesmaids, Spy, and, god help me, even Tammy were often when McCarthy got to act angry and frustrated. Bridesmaids is a great movie and McCarthy’s performance was part of a potpourri that included tremendous work by Paul Feig, Rose Byrne, Kristen Wiig, and Maya Rudolph, but movies like Spy and Tammy required McCarthy’s crass vitriol to be memorable in any serious way. Okay, okay, Jason Statham was pretty great in Spy too.
So, beyond the sheer popularity of McCarthy’s Spicer, even with people who gave up on SNL long before the show played possum when Donald Trump hosted last year, it makes sense that she would return to the role. And that’s just what she did Saturday night on SNL, returning to skewer Spicer once again in the show’s cold open. In some ways, it was just an embellished rehashing of the original sketch, sticking to the same comedic structure as last week’s piece with the gum, the boxes, the moveable podium, and Kate McKinnon. And yet, the new jokes all hit, underlining other problematic personality issues that Spicer, as well as his colleagues in the current administration, has yet to confront on his own time.
As with Alec Baldwin‘s take on the president, McCarthy smartly doesn’t just go in for parody but rather creates an entire comedic character here, one with its own internal, chaotic logic and feelings. If SNL can push itself a little further and do the same with other denizens of the current White House, they could do even more substantial damage to the egos of people who really offer little more than ego to their voters and their public. The idea of having Rosie O’Donnell come on as Steve Bannon is great, but he’s hardly the only one overdue for a fully mounted criticism. It’s great having McKinnon come out as our new AG, Jeff Sessions, even if she does look more like Nosferatu or the guy from Phantasm than the racist Keebler elf that Sessions very much is, but McCarthy’s Spicer is a work of damning, uproarious criticism that goes beyond anecdotes to get at the essence of the person, no matter how insufferable that person happens to be.
Here’s the clip from last night’s SNL cold open: