In case you missed it, this weekend’s episode of “Saturday Night Live” opened with a seven-minute sketch featuring six celebrity guest stars, culminating with the appearance of onscreen prostitute Stormy Daniels, who alleges scandalous activities with President Trump years ago.
Special guests this week included Alec Baldwin, reviving his caricature-like impression of Donald Trump; Ben Stiller, returning as Trump lawyer Michael Cohen; Martin Short as Dr. Bornstein; Scarlett Johansson and Jimmy Fallon as Ivanka and Jared Kushner; and finally Daniels.
Through a somewhat painful game of Stiller pretending to call people as a cheap way to tag more celebrities doing unnecessary impersonations, we finally land on Daniels, who is put on line with the president. He asks what it will take to get her to go away, and she replies coolly, “A resignation,” and “I know you don’t believe in climate change, but a storm is ‘a comin.’” Then Baldwin and Daniels awkwardly attempt to sync up for the classic “Live from New York…” lead in to the show.
Honestly, I didn’t expect much from this unapologetically and mean-spirited version of SNL, especially with Baldwin’s confounding and only sporadically funny impression (what is he doing with his mouth? I’ve never seen Trump do that), but this was a clear missed opportunity. You have Daniels on set, and this lame, convoluted, cold open is what the writers chose? Here are some sketch ideas I would have rather seen that may have been a better use of Daniels on the show.
- Instead of Stormy Daniels appearing as herself, she could have appeared as Scarlett Johansson. Maybe they’re all at a restaurant, and Trump (Baldwin) is there with Ivanka (real Johansson), and Daniels (as Johansson) appears at the table to angrily discuss some issues with the president. How meta!
- A “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”-esque parody of Stormy being frenemies with Ivanka, Melania, and Omarosa Manigault from Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” The ladies could appear to be having a friendly lunch while being filmed for reality TV, when Cohen shows up, panicked, and awkwardly has to speak to Daniels. The other ladies, all clad in diamonds and furs, all go to camera-confession mode, where they speculate on what has been going on between Daniels, Trump, and Cohen, each with their own Bravo TV-esque agenda.
- A game show similar to “Family Feud,” where different people, including Daniels, try to guess what Trump does next. “Survey says…Trump tweets something about how much he loves Kanye West’s music!” Or “Trump tries to say something awkward about Cinco de Mayo!” Also, Kenan Thompson’s Steve Harvey impression always kills.
- A premise where Daniels, Trump, Cohen, Ivanka, Kushner, Sarah Sanders, Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Bornstein, Kanye West, and Omarosa are television writers orchestrating the Trump administration from a writer’s room. Cohen suggests to Dr. Bornstein that he call an investigation “rape,” then Omarosa tells Giuliani, through hysterical laughter, that he should go on live TV and refer to Kushner as “disposable.” Finally, Daniels appears, and suggests she appear on SNL!
- A “Westworld” parody where everyone turns out to be robots. Daniels and the majority of the White House staff turn out to be human-like robots that are becoming self-actualized, and hungry for revenge. This big punch out at the end is that Trump is a robot, too!
- A parody of “HQ Live,” in which Donald Trump poses as the host and asks questions about himself, feeling confident that he will stump everyone, but Daniels prevails as the winner, proving she knows more than she should. Cohen, Giuliani, Dr. Bornstein, and other characters can be seen in the comments disparaging about losing.
- A “Weekend Update’” bit in which Daniels appears as herself, and Stiller appears as Cohen, and the two of them have a back and forth channeling the old days of Dan Aykroyd versus Jane Curtain. Daniels would be the calm voice of reason, explaining what had happened, and how lies had been told, and Stiller would fly off the handle as Cohen, reaching for any straw possible to keep himself and the president from getting in trouble.
- A similar sketch to the existing cold open, but using any other joke than, “Trump is lying scum, and everyone he has ever worked with is scum too.” This joke is so stale at this point. It certainly not off limits, and I’m not defending this administration from the same late-night satire every other president has faced since 1975. It’s just that it would actually be funnier if they loosened their idea of becoming personally responsible for Trump’s downfall.
This is a talented writer’s room, and they must have better ideas than the one I saw on Saturday, but I am available if they don’t!