Sometimes a “Saturday Night Live” cold open is a genuine surprise, a distillation of recent history that comes completely out of left field. And then sometimes the events of a past week are outrageous enough that they demand an obvious approach. (In other words, if you were awaiting a sketch about Nikki Haley’s resignation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, prepare to be disappointed.)
In his first “S.N.L.” appearance of the season, Alec Baldwin returned to his recurring role as President Trump to help recreate the strange Oval Office meeting that transpired on Thursday between the president and the rapper Kanye West.
Baldwin opened the meeting by announcing, “Thank you all for joining us today for this important discussion. It’s in no way a publicity stunt. This is a serious private conversation between three friends, plus 50 reporters with cameras.”
Chris Redd played West, who declared, “I flew here using the power of this hat.”
Also on hand was Kenan Thompson who played an embarrassed-looking Jim Brown. “I’ve been on coalitions with Bill Cosby and O.J. Simpson and this is the first time I have regrets,” he said at one point.
This is the third year that Baldwin has played Trump for “S.N.L.,” and in that time the actor has apparently gotten so familiar with the role that he now gives interviews in which he also boasts that “black people love me.” (Baldwin has also said of his “S.N.L.” appearances that this season, “I’m going to do some of it, but not a whole lot.”)
Meanwhile, West (who earlier on Saturday returned to Twitter to give a lengthy monologue about mind control) has become something of a comic foil to “S.N.L.” After performing on the show’s season premiere two weeks ago, West delivered a discursive off-air monologue in support of Trump, to the chagrin of several “S.N.L.” cast members.
Last week, Pete Davidson appeared on “Weekend Update” to give a comic rebuttal of West, observing that “what Kanye said after we went off the air last week was one of the worst, most awkward things I’ve ever seen here — and I’ve seen Chevy Chase speak to an intern.”
[We want to hear from you: Kanye West has faced criticism for being a black Trump fan. Can you relate?]
This week’s episode, hosted by Seth Meyers and featuring the musical guest Paul Simon, would go on to reference the Trump-West summit many more times.
But back in the cold open, Redd was pontificating, Kanye-style: “The murder rate is going down, 20 percent every years. And pretty soon it’s going to be a negative murder rate. We’re going to be digging bodies out of the ground”
At the same time, Baldwin could be heard thinking Trump-like thoughts to himself: “This guy might be cuckoo. I’ve been in a room with Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un and they made a lot more sense than him.”
Later, Baldwin was heard thinking, “This guy can talk. He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t listen to anyone but himself. Who does he remind me of?” The answer: “Oh my God, he’s black me.”
Nostalgic Monologue of the Week
Hosting “Saturday Night Live” for the first time since he left the show in 2014 to take over NBC’s “Late Night” franchise, Seth Meyers reflected on a 2004 episode hosted by Trump, and a sketch in which he’d played Meyers’s father.
“Most people who have pictures of themselves with presidents get them framed,” Meyers said. “I did not.”
Meyers also shared a story about a past episode on which Kanye West had been the musical guest. “So we pitched him a sketch wherein he would interrupt different awards show speeches, saying they had made a mistake and he should’ve won,” Meyers said:
And Kanye said, “That’s hilarious because I do that.” Which is good self-awareness. And so we did the sketch and we had Kanye interrupt the Kids’ Choice awards. The Nobel Prize. He interrupted a state fair because he was upset his pumpkin didn’t win. A fantastic experience. But here’s the thing — here’s the reason I will never be surprised by Kanye West. That sketch was in 2007. And he interrupted Taylor Swift in 2009. That whole time I was telling you that story, you thought it was based on him interrupting Taylor Swift. That hadn’t happened yet. Kanye did a sketch about how crazy it was he interrupted speeches, and then two years later, he was at an awards show and thought, I should do it again.
Awkward Cellmate of the Week
If you thought Kenan Thompson would never revisit his Bill Cosby impression on “S.N.L.”, well, think again. This week he returned to the role in a sketch that cast Thompson as Cosby, now a convicted prisoner, and Meyers as his new cellmate. Thompson steadfastly refuses to acknowledge why he is now incarcerated, believing that he’s been put in jail “for loving salty foods.” (He also keeps hoagies in a hole he dug in the wall and talks to a turtle he believes is Quincy Jones.) Meyers says, “Can I ask you something? And this is going to come out way meaner than I intend, but have you considered just dying?”
‘Weekend Update’ Jokes of the Week
The “Weekend Update” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che started off as if they, too, were going to riff on President Trump’s sit-down with Kanye West, but instead they quickly pivoted to a new U.N. report on climate change that is predicting dire global consequences as soon as 2040.
Not to worry, Jost and Che did eventually make fun of the Trump-West tête-à-tête, in a “Weekend Update” segment where Meyers returned to the desk and resurrected an old bit called “Really!?!” that he used to perform with Amy Poehler. Among the memorable one-liners:
Meyers: “Trump met Kanye in the Oval Office. Don’t you have better things to do? And by the way, when I say that, I’m not really sure which of you I’m talking to.”
Jost: “You could tell a lot by how each of them prepared for the meeting. Kanye prepared by learning every fact in the world backwards. While Trump prepared by clearing his desk of any valuables.”
Meyers: “You know how crazy Thursday was at the White House? Kid Rock was also there, and no one cared. It was almost a relief to hear someone as reasonable as Kid Rock was in the White House. You know how hard it is to make Kid Rock seem like the adult in the room? His first name is Kid.”