Saturday saw the return of Alec Baldwin to his role of Donald Trump for the cold opening of SNL. Also featuring Kate McKinnon as an exasperated Angela Merkel and the return of chief strategist Steve Bannon as the grim reaper, the skit did well to pack a week’s worth of controversies into a six-minute piece.
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The sketch opened by acknowledging the influence Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jarred Kushner has over the president, with Baldwin asking a staffer if they had left for the day.
“They always keep me so calm and make sure I don’t do anything too crazy, so quick question: are they gone?”
The bit refers to speculation that Trump waited until Ivanka and Kushner had left the White House to observe Shabbat, to announce his controversial travel ban.
Baldwin then recreates the disastrous call with Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull, egged on by Bannon. Through an awful Australian accent, the actor playing Turnbull thanks Trump for agreeing to take in 1,200 refugees currently being held by the Australian government – a deal struck with President Obama – which causes Baldwin to explode in anger.
“No, no. No refugees. America first, Australia Sucks, your reef is failing, prepare to go to war.”
The sketch then references the contentious Mexican wall. Grim Reaper Bannon encourages Baldwin to call Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss payment for the wall. Baldwin tries several tactics to get his way including opening the conversation with; “Guy-who’s-gonna-pay-for-the-wall-says-what?”
SNL also manages to make reference to many of Trump’s other high profile gaffs in the second week of his presidency. Baldwin cites the “Bowling Green Massacre” as the reason for the travel ban, a fictitious event first brought up by the counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway in an NBC interview last week. Conway later corrected herself on twitter claiming that mistakes were common on live television.
Conway was referring to the 2011 arrest of two Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky after it was discovered they had assisted in the making of IED’s in Iraq.
Baldwin also makes repeated reference to the ratings of The Apprentice, as the real Trump did at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast.
In a possible response to response to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s joking offer to switch places with the president, Trump blasted him during his speech at the breakfast
“The ratings went right down the tubes. It has been a disaster. I want to just pray for Arnold… for those ratings.”
The show also touched on the widely derided Holocaust memorial statement. The Trump administration reportedly blocked a statement drafted by the State Department, which specifically mentioned Jewish victims of the holocaust, deciding instead to make a vague statement referring to the “victims” and “survivors” while making no mention of any Jews.
The real kicker came at the end of the opener, when Baldwin called Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, attempting to flex his presidential muscle. Widely regarded as a dictator and more or less condemned by most international leaders, it seemed Baldwin had no idea who he was threatening.
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Spurred on by Bannon, Baldwin opens the call with “Zimbabwe, there is a new sheriff in town.” Mugabe, played by Kenan Thompson, releases an attack so savage, it has to be seen to be believed.
Alec Baldwin has been confirmed as the host of next week’s SNL. The way Trump is headed, there will no doubt be a mountain of new material to work with by then.
Watch the entire opening below.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]