While often used to promote policy, comedy has become a way to make a public official come across as a regular, average person.“Saturday Night Live” is often known for satirizing many candidates, but on Saturday, presidential candidate Donald Trump hosted the entire show.
In October, NBC announced that Donald Trump would be hosting Saturday Night Live with musical guest Sia. The announcement was immediately met with harsh backlash from critics, particularly in the Latino community. Due to Trump’s past racist remarks, protesters with signs proclaiming “Basta Trump” and “Dump Trump” swarmed 30 Rockefeller Center in the days leading up to his hosting of the sketch comedy program.
Among the protesters was NYU’s DREAM Team, a group of students who advocate for immigration policy reform. On their site, they state, “Our group is made up of students from diverse ethnic, socioeconomic and immigrant backgrounds who agree that the status quo of undocumented immigrants, particularly youth, in the United States is unacceptable.”
Nevertheless, Trump jumped right in despite the controversy surrounding his appearance. His monologue contained jokes about everything from Rosie O’Donnell to the very protesters outside the taping. “I’ve got nothing better to do,” was his reason for hosting the show. While attempting to keep it light with sketches aimed at making Trump look the slightest bit humble, as well as a particular moment in which Trump awkwardly danced to Drake’s “Hotline Bling,” it was obvious that the man didn’t sit well with various cast members.
A sketch set two years in the future with Trump as president seemed almost utopian. ISIS had been defeated; the national debt had vanished; Putin had withdrawn from Ukraine; and Trump, alongside his First Lady Melania, could not be more pleased with the progress. They acknowledged that the White House was the smallest property they’d ever owned, but their ongoing renovations were improving the building. Trump paused the sketch and said while this was not what his presidency would look like, it’s important for American voters to keep their expectations low so as to never be disappointed. The entire sketch seemed like an awkward attempt to humanize Trump, and it failed.
During Weekend Update, anchor Michael Che made a snide comment toward Trump that made it clear not all of the show’s comedians agreed with his views. While discussing the unfairness of President Barack Obama facing questioning about his birth certificate, Che stage-whispered his disagreement. “And I’m talking about the guy who’s hosting the show,” he said.
At another segment of the show, Bobby Moynihan’s popular character Drunk Uncle made an appearance. “He’s like a big old beautiful Monopoly man,” Moynihan said, in character. “It’s basically like I’m running for president: we both love
Ultimately, Trump’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” was riddled with racism and misogyny, and NBC’s ploy for ratings backfired. Many SNL-regulars encouraged others to avoid watching the episode on television, and thousands of offended viewers refused to tune in.
A version of this article appeared in the Nov. 9 print edition. Email Jordan Reynolds at [email protected]