Trump on SNL: yep. It was yuge

By this point it probably goes without saying that I didn’t stay up to watch SNL last night and had to instead queue it up this morning. (I go to bed by around 9:30 and get up a bit past 5, so that’s just not TV watching time for me.) Judging by the responses in the overnight thread I’m guessing that more than a few of you took the plunge, though. Given all the hype surrounding Donald Trump’s appearance there seemed to be two things we could anticipate to a near certainty. First, it was never going to live up to the hype and, second, the ratings will be YUGE. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the second assumption, but the first one is somewhat in doubt. I haven’t been following SNL regularly for quite a few years, but for what it’s worth, this one had me laughing. (And when you get past all the politics, poison and positioning, isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about… at least in theory?)

As ABC’s coverage somewhat grudgingly indicated, Trump was pretty much comfortable on the stage and was getting laughs from the audience all through the monologue.

The Republican presidential candidate made his second-ever appearance on the show, dancing to Drake and portraying his future in the White House.

“Donald — you’re the most talented guy. You’re brilliant, you’re handsome, you’re rich, you have everything going — the world is waiting for you to be president so why are you hosting Saturday Night Live?” he said during his monologue. “I didn’t have anything better to do.”

If any liberals were worried that SNL was going to “take it easy” on Trump or somehow try to help his candidacy, they needn’t have been concerned. Pretty much every skit involving him (and that means most of the show) was making fun of his campaign, his attitude, his stump speech claims and even his looks. But somehow Trump blasted his way through all of it and came across as the kind of guy who can take a joke, make fun of himself and still get his point across. I’m not saying he should quit his day job(s) and go into stand-up for a living but the man was genuinely good at sketch comedy.

One of his best moments was during the open when he was “heckled” from the crowd. The media had been paying all sorts of attention to the group offering $5K for somebody to call him a racist on live TV, so Trump made sure it happened. But it was Larry David yelling it in a prepared stunt, then sheepishly admitting he’d heard he could get some money for doing it. The other big feature – at least for me – was the “Trump in 2018” bit where he’s in the Oval Office discussing with his staff how well things have been going. He’s converted Syria into a gambling resort mecca, his daughter is redecorating the Washington Monument in gold and the President of Mexico stops by to pay for the wall on the southern border. Pretty much everything that Trump is regularly blasted for in the media shows up and The Donald just dishes it out.

If you missed it, USA Today has a more complete rundown and provides this video with some of the highlights.

If you’re looking for someone to grouse about Trump’s turn on SNL, seek no further than the Washington Post. Hank Stuever comes up with a predictable bucket of cold water to dump all over The Donald’s head.

Donald Trump’s highly touted and almost certainly inappropriate hosting gig on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” turned out to be an anemic and halfhearted dud…

Yet, curiously, no one involved with Saturday’s “SNL” episode seemed to have the desire to participate in it or play with him. After a passable cold-open sketch about Friday’s Democratic forum on MSNBC (a sketch that didn’t require Trump, but did feature Larry David’s second appearance this season as Bernie Sanders, the show’s lone buzzworthy invention so far this year), the cast members telegraphed an awkward vibe of reluctance when it came to performing on stage with the bombastic billionaire. Even jokes about their awkwardness being around him fell flat.

Speaking of “curiously” here, the truly curious thing is that Stuever’s lengthy critique includes little more than those four sentences I excerpted when it comes to Trump’s actual performance or the quality of the skits. The rest of it is devoted to a litany of complaints against NBC for allowing him to even take the stage, mixed in with paragraphs of commentary on what an awful person Trump generally is and how he’s ruining America by even asking for a shot at the nomination.

All in all, I don’t see a downside to this for Trump. He’s going to get a massive ratings hit (which he will brag about for weeks on the trail) and he once again did it without spending a dime. If anyone wants to say that he’s not a good enough comedic actor, well… that’s really not his job, is it? And he was able to get a very blue state oriented audience laughing along with him as he made fun of himself and everyone else in politics. Trump had very little to lose by accepting the invitation and may have parlayed it into a significant gain.