Brow Beat

Stormy Daniels Joins Ben Stiller, Scarlett Johansson, and Jimmy Fallon for a Star-Studded Tour of Saturday Night Live‘s Trump World

Wanna feel old? Donald Trump has been on the world political stage long enough that for Saturday Night Live to do a sketch about the minor characters the president has dragged into the spotlight, the show has to pull off the kind of casting and scheduling coup that used to be reserved for Garry Marshall holiday movies.
This week’s cold open featured six celebrities dropping in to play or reprise various people in Trump’s orbit, none of whom was host Donald Glover. That’s against only eight Saturday Night Live cast members, and two of those SNL roles are FBI agents who barely speak. This seems like a bad long-term approach, in terms of giving the cast a chance to succeed, but it’s definitely eye-catching. Here’s the all-star playbill:

Alec Baldwin as DONALD J. TRUMP, the president.
Beck Bennett as MIKE PENCE, the vice president.
Aidy Bryant as SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, the White House Press Secretary.
Stephanie Clifford as STORMY DANIELS, the president’s ex-lover.
Jimmy Fallon as JARED KUSHNER, the president’s ne’er-do-well son-in-law.
Heidi Gardner as AINSLEY EARHARDT, a network news anchor.
Scarlett Johansson as IVANKA TRUMP, the president’s daughter
Leslie Jones as OMAROSA MANIGAULT, a reality television star.
Kate McKinnon as RUDY GIULIANI, the president’s fool.
Alex Moffatt as FBI AGENT #1, an FBI agent.
Chris Redd as FBI AGENT #2, an FBI agent.
Martin Short as DOCTOR HAROLD BORNSTEIN, the president’s other fool.
Ben Stiller as MICHAEL COHEN, the president’s other other fool.
Cecily Strong as MELANIA TRUMP, the first lady.

That’d be a solid of a cast for a feature, never mind a comedy sketch. But although it’s impressive on a logistical level that the show can put together a parade of talent like this, there’s not a lot of humor going on here. The biggest laughs come from the steady ratcheting up of on-screen star power, not the jokes, the impressions, or even McKinnon’s drastic “Rudy Giuliani” makeup job. That’s bad news, if the point is to make fun of the Trump administration instead of pat Saturday Night Live on the back for excellence in access to A-listers. The single funniest thing in the entire sketch is Cecily Strong inexplicably sinking out of frame at the end of her appearance as Melania. Some of the other actors who’ve been stunt-cast into this weird, unfunny Donald Trump Repertory Company should maybe think about making a similar exit.