This week’s Saturday Night Live cold open featured surprise guest star Paul Rudd as Emmanuel Macron, surprise guest star Jimmy Fallon as Justin Trudeau, surprise guest star James Corden as Boris Johnson, and regularly-featured guest star Alec Baldwin as Donald J. Trump, plus a few members of the cast. While the show is usually known for its comedy, this sketch was more along the lines of elevated horror: SNL restaged Trump’s latest humiliation in the “NATO cafeteria,” envisioning a nightmarish mirror-world in which political leaders are doomed to endlessly reenact their adolescent traumas in a futile effort to master them, holding the rest of the planet hostage to their ancient resentments and anger and shame, as though even unlimited wealth and power were not enough to escape from high school’s long, dark shadow. Can you even imagine?
Paul Rudd is incapable of being anything less than delightful, and having Alec Baldwin’s Trump wipe a tear from his eye with a cheeseburger is truly inspired. But “political leaders behave like high schoolers” is not exactly a new premise, and this latest incarnation doesn’t wring many new insights or laughs from it. The coda, Cecily Strong’s Melania Trump delivering an anti-bullying message in front of a live-action freeze-frame, is much stonger, because live-action freeze-frames are always hilarious. But this one isn’t quite up to the standards established by the Police Squad! epilogues, not least because Saturday Night Live didn’t bother to dress a chimpanzee up in a suit and tie:
Well, it looks like Saturday Night Live’s writers are going to be producing their weekly sketch comedy show in the Stateville Prison from now on, up there with Sally Decker and Martin and Dutch Gunderson and Lana and Thames and Veronica Rivers and Vic. And Alec Baldwin, naturally!