Per usual, last night’s Saturday Night Live was dominated by jokes at the expense of President Trump, most of which were not very good. The only good ones were doled out in the very first sketch, in which Aidy Bryant‘s Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Beck Bennett‘s Ronny Jackson went through Trump’s latest round of humiliations, catastrophes, and half-ass covers. Bryant began with some comments on his feigned or simply delusional belief that the Women’s March was in celebration of his accomplishments, but things really started rolling when Bennet’s Jackson started going through Trump’s recent, ridiculous health report.
Though seeing Bill Murray in the guise of Steve Bannon was a trip, these sort of cold opens where the base cast get to show off their chops tend to be more rewarding on SNL. Melissa McCarthy‘s Sean Spicer is still the high-water mark for impersonations of any of the Trump gang, but that’s mostly because McCarthy is funniest when she’s angry and exasperated, two elements that the character required. In contrast, Alec Baldwin‘s Trump rarely works because it calls upon Baldwin’s weaknesses as a comedian – impressions, physicality, etc. – and never quite tapped into Trump’s crucial lethargy and pettiness. Kate McKinnon‘s Jeff Sessions and Bennett’s Putin have proved to be far more interesting creations, even if the writing has rarely matched the devotion and energy of the performers.
Bryant and Bennett, two of the show’s most honed comedic minds, similarly have a clear idea of how they are amplifying certain characteristics of these people, namely Sanders’ transparently fake enthusiasm and defensiveness and Jackson’s hollow professionalism. They highlight how the series could improve its ongoing, largely innocuous attacks on Trump and his imploding administration by focusing on character and behavior rather than one-liners. You can watch the clip right below.
Here’s the cold open from last night’s SNL: