Brow Beat

Cecily Strong’s Performance as the White House Intern Who Tried to Take Jim Acosta’s Microphone Was the Funniest Thing on Saturday Night Live This Week

Cecily Strong strikes a karate pose as Colin Jost recoils in terror.
Karate chop!
NBC

It’s a lot easier to articulate what’s funny about a joke that involves words than it is to do the same thing with physical comedy. So for now, let’s just say that this is extraordinary work from Cecily Strong, in a sketch about the Jim Acosta affair:

Strong specializes in playing people who are, for want of a better term, total fucking nightmares, and the bundle of passive-aggressive fury she embodies here is the role she was born for. Here’s the original source material:

There’s not actually a lot to work from there—it’s 14 seconds of footage!—but you can extrapolate quite a lot from the fact that the woman in the purple dress works for Donald Trump, and Strong does. Her performance has two basic elements: spasmodic horizontal movements as she grabs for Colin Jost’s mic and swivels her head, and a relatively smooth vertical motion as she rises and falls behind the desk like a whack-a-mole. All that’s in the original video, albeit to a much lesser degree, but Strong’s wild-eyed triumph when she announces that Jost has been banned from the White House is a glorious invention, as is her version of the suspicious video Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out. (“Oh, here I go-oo!”) It’s a tragedy that we won’t see Strong play this character again, given how quickly we’ll all forget the Acosta story in the face of whatever bullshit happens next week. It’s an even bigger tragedy that some SNL cast member in the distant future will have to revive the role, because no one would take a job in the Trump White House if they weren’t planning to run for office sooner or later. Hold on to your microphones.