Did the presidential candidate deliver a good show? Or should this billionaire be fired?
First things first: this feature exists to grade the comedy of each Saturday Night Live taping, not to assess the political landscape. Protests were happening outside 30 Rock while this episode aired, but that had zero effect on the show itself. Likewise, I’ve done my best to filter out any personal feelings on Donald Trump (I’m a libertarian, for the record) and focus on his performance as a host. Now that that’s out the way, let’s… Well, I guess the Don doesn’t really need an introduction, huh? Joining him on stage was Sia, a.k.a. Australian Lady Gaga. Her performances are always a showcase of her vocal talents and trippy choreography.
[This episode’s score has been updated to reflect the new scoring system.]
Air Date: 11/7/15
Host: Donald Trump
Musical Gust: Sia
MSNBC Forum Cold Open
I hope you’re ready for many, many political openers until the 2016 election wraps. This was a by-the-numbers piece through and through, though Larry David’s Bernie Sanders is still killer. Unfortunately, it’s the only highlight.
Look, you can call Trump a “performer,” I guess, but this was the first warning sign that the show was going to be filled with awkward cue card reading and forced jokes. At least we got to see David, Taran Killam, and Darrell Hammond roast the businessman to his face.
White House 2018
Credit where credit is due — if a candidate is hosting, then a sketch with them as president is a good first pick. Though it wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, this piece was dripping with satire. Props for the meta twist at the ending too. Side note: anyone else slightly uncomfortable with the dead silence during Ivanka Trump’s cameo?
One of this week’s sketches is not like the other… Left field aside, the actual joke here died out pretty quickly. At least the exchange between Beck Bennett and a gun-toting Aidy Bryant was good for a chuckle.
Ya know, keeping Trump off camera is probably a wise move when it comes to live comedy. The meta-ness of the cast playing themselves in a sketch was an interesting hook, though most of Trump’s “tweets” were uninspired. Props for a very Leslie Jones-style ending at least.
Hotline Bling Parody
Despite SNL airing most weeks, the show sometimes misses the joke window. This was just such an occasion. Wait, was that Ed Grimley? And a dancing Trump!? We’ll call it even.
Colin Jost and Michael Che kicked things off with some digs on both sides of the political aisle (the way it should be), and the rest of their jokes were on point too. It’s great to see Jones laying down her usual stuff — this may be her best Update appearance yet. And we haven’t seen Drunk Uncle in a while, so he’s a welcome face. All told, this was a fantastic segment, and the highlight of the show.
I don’t give points for this, but what fantastic costuming on this one. More to the point, the premise here was good for a few laughs, but it’s obvious how much better it would have been with a different host. Typical post-Update meh.
Man, Bennett kills with pre-taped stuff. The premise is great, his awful singing perfectly ramps things up, and the idea of actually sitting through this dinner is comedy gold.
Note: This sketch is not available on Hulu, likely because of the music used in it.
I think this makes three meta sketches this week? That’s not a bad thing, especially since this was short and simple, and served as a great segue into Sia’s second song. We don’t get setups like that very often.
Porn Stars: Donald Trump
This is the one recurring sketch I’ll never get tired of. That could just be me, but the lines from Strong and Vanessa Bayer here are wordplay greatness. And who knew Bobby Moynihan had a pretty solid Trump impression?
Things took a turn for the better with Weekend Update, and Trump seemed to find his footing by the final sketch, making this a watchable episode (for the most part). In the words of Louis C.K. and the monologue that got him banned, “We got through it.” Next week is Elizabeth Banks!