I’ll preface this piece by stating once again that Saturday Night Live – once a great source of innovative comedy when I was a young man – has sunk even further into the mire this past year and is virtually unwatchable. The portrayal of Donald Trump by Alec Baldwin is so boring and uninspired that it’s gone far past the point of being merely cringeworthy. It’s pretty much the same few “jokes” over and over again. Look, I’ve got orange hair! I just repeat things I hear from the tabloids. I’m a racist! It’s just sad at this point.
But with that said, this morning I watched the video of their latest entry in the political game from last night and… I’m just going to admit it here. I laughed the entire way through. Melissa McCarthy was brought in to play Sean Spicer and it was a shocking transformation. I’m not all that familiar with McCarthy’s work so I had to go look her up on Google, but she was unrecognizable in her business suit and slicked back hair. USA Today provides a decent introduction as well as a few of the opening jokes.
Melissa McCarthy had a big jacket to fill, but she did the job. The Ghostbusters actress made a surprise appearance as press secretary Sean Spicer during this weekend’s Saturday Night Live, and she was barely recognizable.
“Before we begin, I know that myself and the press have gotten off to a rocky start,” McCarthy began, “when I say ‘rocky start’ I mean it in the sense of Rocky the movie because I came out here to punch you in the face, and also I don’t talk so good.
“I would like to begin today by apologizing on behalf of you to me,” she continued, “for how you have treated me these last two weeks and that apology is not accepted ’cause I’m not here to be your buddy. I’m here to swallow gum and I’m here to take names.”
Before going any further, let’s just put the video out here and you can judge for yourself.
Very little of the portrayal is actually how Sean Spicer acts at the podium (at least so far) but that’s not the point of parody. This is an extreme caricature of not only Spicer, but Trump’s attitude toward the media, and it’s one which is actually fairly accurate. Those elements combine to produce a truly good parody. Adding more spice to the skit was the brief cutaway to the CNN reporter standing inside a cage in the back of the briefing room screaming about their network not being fake news. McCarthy’s use of props as she attempts to dumb down her answers to a level understandable by the press was inspired physical comedy and her delivery was smooth and natural, as if she’d been practicing for this role for the past year.
I happen to like Sean Spicer even while I don’t envy him his current job. But I’d like to think that even Sean would get a laugh out of this. If SNL could manage to focus on the quality of their comedy rather than simply trying to undermine the Trump administration, they might actually get back to being funny. Having McCarthy on the payroll playing the Press Secretary could be a good start in that direction.