Caitlin Mayo is a freshman nursing major.
“I have nothing better to do,” Donald Trump states as he kicked off the Nov. 7 episode of “Saturday Night Live.” He continued, “Part of the reason why I’m here is I know how to take a joke.” However, SNL really had no jokes to throw and having Trump on the show was an obvious and unsuccessful attempt to boost ratings. The sketches were dry and without humor, failing to really poke fun at the presidential candidate. It became quite obvious that Trump’s political agenda played a significant role during the writing of this episode.
He begins the show with (oh the horror!) two Donald Trumps by his side, played by Taran Killam and Darrell Hammond. He knows his shock value, especially when Larry David yells “You’re a racist!” from the wings, claiming that he was being paid $5,000 to yell that. Clearly written in the script, Trump responds with, “As a businessman, I can fully respect that.” Both men fall flat in their delivery, and the show only continues to fall flat.
A sketch showing Trump as President of the United States with his First Lady Melania (played by Cecily Strong) definitely matches up with his political agenda. He sits among advisors, who tell him that ISIS has been defeated in Syria, Putin has withdrawn from Ukraine (in tears, no less), the economy is booming, and Americans can’t handle how great everything is. The Mexican president enters with a huge check to pay for the wall, which Trump quickly pockets. Trump wasn’t taking a joke at all during this sketch. He simply basks in the glory of his hypothetical America.
The rest of the sketches followed the same, unamusing suit. Trump live tweets, attempts to dance to “Hotline Bling,” and is campaigned for by former porn stars played by Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong. Though the show had the potential to be able to poke fun at the presidential candidate, the show’s writers missed this ideal opportunity to do so. Trump tries to bank on his value as an entertainer, but only manages to be a lump in the middle of the stage.
In truth, the writers didn’t need to put so much effort into trying to create intellectually-stimulating, pointed, witty material for the Nov. 7 episode with a controversial figure like Trump hosting it. People were sure to tune in, regardless of the material. However, it is truly a shame that the writers didn’t receive the opportunity to air more clever material. The New York Times reported that “Mr. Trump himself had said that he had vetoed some material he found too risqué, so maybe he killed better material that we’ll never see.” The Trump-hosted episode averaged 9.3 million viewers, which are very high ratings for SNL. According to Los Angeles Times, SNL averages around 7.2 million viewers.
The show did bring up a point of concern: Trump’s racism. Though Larry David’s yell at the beginning of the show was indeed scripted, he had been offered a $5,000 reward from advocacy group Deport Racism before the episode aired. Having Trump on SNL enabled NBC to give Donald Trump a platform and more exposure. According to The Huffington Post, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda wrote to NBC beforehand, stating “We are appalled that you would enable Trump’s hateful speech for nothing (more) than a ratings ploy and ask that you rescind the SNL invitation.”
Trump didn’t deserve an appearance on SNL, but I wouldn’t be quick to request any other politicians to appear on the show as well. Trump’s episode of SNL has proven that the show could easily be twisted to fulfill the agenda of a politician, rather than its usual function of making pointed commentary and jests. SNL simply wasn’t SNL when Trump hosted, and the episode simply didn’t satisfy. It definitely didn’t elicit any laughter on my end. It didn’t prove to me that Donald Trump could “take a joke” at all. It only proved that Trump had nothing better to do.