Saturday Night Live: Donald Trump / Sia
November 8, 2015 3:58 AM - Season 41, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Trump brings the stilted braggadocio, Sia brings the interpretive dancer, Larry David brings the "protest", and only Michael Che lands one on the host.
posted by Etrigan (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This was contemptible.
posted by Small Dollar at 7:00 AM on November 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I recorded it and watched the opening half hour and it was awful. Nothing funny, the usual shitty phoned-in cue card performances, and a weird vibe that probably didn't do Trump any favors with voters. Misfires all around.
posted by mediareport at 8:22 AM on November 8, 2015


And, you know, Larry David's 2nd go at Bernie fell flat. You need jokes for satire to work and there weren't any.
posted by mediareport at 8:25 AM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The first half was pretty much everything I was afraid it would be. The show got a bit better after Donald Trump started playing characters not named Donald Trump, but I still wouldn't call it good.
posted by ckape at 10:16 AM on November 8, 2015


I hope every other candidate from both parties follow through in putting in an FCC Equal Time protest. Actually, the best possible "debate format" for the Republicans would be for each candidate to get a turn at hosting SNL and placing themselves at the tender mercies of its inept writing staff.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:12 AM on November 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


I missed the first half, but the second half was pretty bad. The laser harp bit seemed like a lazy attempt to recapture the magic of "more cowbell" but fell flat. It's almost as if Donald Trump lacks the comedic ability of Will Farrell.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't see this, but I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who saw both this episode and the Andrew Dice Clay-hosted one way back in the day (like, twenty-five years or so ago). It sounds like much the same thing, in which they announce a host and all sorts of people go "ah hell nah", but they go ahead with it because ain't nobody gonna tell Lorne Michaels what to do, and it turns out to be not worth the aggro. (I think that the ADC episode is one that Michaels won't allow repeats of.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:14 PM on November 8, 2015


I thought it was OK, surprisingly enough. A pretty standard episode for this era. While they weren't ripping Trump to shreds I thought there was some consistent criticism of the guy going on. The Tweeting bit, for instance, only makes sense if you think of Trump as a weird, two-faced asshole. ("But he was so nice all week!") Making Drunk Uncle his biggest fan was kind of inspired and did NOT reflect well on Trump. I'm not saying it was great, but it wasn't awful and I didn't think they let Trump off so easy.

(Sarah Palin's appearance was a lovefest compared to this. I can never quite forgive Amy Poehler for serving as Palin's voice during Palin's awful rap on Weekend Update. I've always liked Poehler, but in that bit she was all too literally being Palin's puppet.)

Maybe it helps that I grew up with Trump as a figure of parody. It's terrifying to think he could get elected, but I see him in action and part of me flashes back to him being a punchline in 1989. He's like Hulk Hogan or something. So as awful as he may be, for one night I found I could kind of shrug and accept him as a gimmick SNL host.

I didn't mind the laser harp thing, it seemed like a typical Kenan Thompson bit of absurdity. He likes to have groups of musicians introducing themselves where it devolves into weirdness, often with names that are just slightly off in a funny way. (Like Jimmy Breads, or whatever Trump was called.) It's a well Thompson's gone to many times, and maybe it's hacky but I've come to just really like that guy.

I thought the burn on poor Toots was too mean though. I mean, the guy's no flash-in-the-pan.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:19 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The whole Trump Toots thing was redundant, anyway.
posted by ckape at 6:24 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


That was pretty bad. Drunk Uncle was the highlight of the show.

and a weird vibe that probably didn't do Trump any favors with voters.

Agreed.
posted by homunculus at 6:27 PM on November 8, 2015


I didn't mind the laser harp thing, it seemed like a typical Kenan Thompson bit of absurdity. He likes to have groups of musicians introducing themselves where it devolves into weirdness, often with names that are just slightly off in a funny way. (Like Jimmy Breads, or whatever Trump was called.) It's a well Thompson's gone to many times, and maybe it's hacky but I've come to just really like that guy.

I haven't seen the show a lot recently and didn't realize that was a recurring bit. While I wasn't a big fan of the sketch, I did find Kenan Thompson himself pretty funny and even when I knew the extended sax solo was coming I still cracked up.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 7:34 PM on November 8, 2015


Yeah, the episode was ok. I had low expectations and it delivered a few laughs. In some ways that's better than getting someone talented like Amy Schumer and delivering a sub-par episode. The mean tweet sketch was ok, Weekend Update was good, and the Drake video was funny and the best use of Trump.

It was their best rated episode in years which is really too bad. Don't complain about SNL's quality if you only tune in to watch an elderly man with no comedic timing host it.
posted by Gary at 9:16 PM on November 8, 2015


I haven't seen the show a lot recently and didn't realize that was a recurring bit.

As far as I know, this specific band hasn't been in a sketch before. But the format of Thompson as a cheesy bandleader and as they all do their introductions it gets weirder and weirder, that's something he's been doing for years. I am fairly sure he writes (or at least co-writes) those bits himself, as most of the SNL players apparently have a hand in writing many of the sketches they star in. I used to find Thompson really hacky and broad, but as the years have gone on he's gotten stranger and the bits he comes up with now delight me. He gets such a kick out of introducing himself as Reese De'What, and that weird freaking name shouldn't be funny but somehow the way he hits that WHAT just is.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:54 AM on November 9, 2015


Even if you take out the aura around picking Trump as a host and having to tiptoe around what he is in American society today -- say, if this episode were from 2013 and all the stuff about Trump's current political campaign were just "Ha ha wouldn't it be hilarious if Donald Trump seriously ran for president" -- it would still have been a horrible episode.


As is, this was the worst episode in recent memory, and I'm only not saying "Worst since the Doumanian season" because I haven't seen every episode of the last 35 years.
posted by Etrigan at 7:09 AM on November 9, 2015


Trump was terrible, but the opening was at least watchable. Everything else was pretty much covered by the "stilted braggadocio" framing. The Telenovella and Old Navy commercials were funnier than trump. At least Sia was there, who I love. I'd forgotten she was going to be on and just coincidentally had been listening to "Where I Belong" all week. On another note, Leslie Jones just continues to be awful. Her weekend update appearance was just a wreck. They all are.
posted by cashman at 7:09 AM on November 9, 2015


On another note, Leslie Jones just continues to be awful. Her weekend update appearance was just a wreck. They all are.

You are an enemy of fun. Leslie's WU appearances are hilarious.
posted by Etrigan at 7:32 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Leslie Jones seems to be really divisive. I continue to love her.
posted by lalex at 7:37 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Post a transcript of her commentary from this week's show, and identify the parts you thought were funny without being troublesome, and the parts you thought were troublesome. We'll find out real quick what's up.
posted by cashman at 9:17 AM on November 9, 2015


This whole mess gave me a major flashback to the "Cutting Edge Live" scenes from Bob Roberts. Only no one tried to attack Trump after the show, to my knowledge.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Post a transcript of her commentary from this week's show, and identify the parts you thought were funny without being troublesome, and the parts you thought were troublesome.

Yes, I'm certain that analyzing why I find her to be funny will bring you around. Or we can mutually accept that you consistently don't find her amusing and I do.
posted by Etrigan at 9:29 AM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or the other option is that you get to explain why you find her funny and I see your point, even if I might not agree. And perhaps if you fail to mention the troublesome portions of her performance and I point those out to you, it gives you some insight into why she upsets me. We both learn.

There's also that.
posted by cashman at 10:16 AM on November 9, 2015


I find her funny because I find her funny. Same reason I don't like jazz -- I just... don't.

What do you find troublesome about her performance?
posted by Etrigan at 10:20 AM on November 9, 2015


"I find it troublesome because I find it troublesome." See how helpful that is? We're not learning anything. You quoted me and jokingly said I am an enemy of fun. I responded by saying post a transcript of her appearance. In that, I said identify parts you found troublesome. So again, what parts did you find troublesome? None?
posted by cashman at 10:40 AM on November 9, 2015


"Troublesome" is different from "funny". Attempts to analyze and dissect and explain humor are famously doomed to fail, but we as adult human beings can have a productive discussion of whether a performance is troublesome.

I responded by saying post a transcript of her appearance.

And then said "if you fail to mention the troublesome portions of her performance and I point those out to you" (emphasis added). Just saying "There are troublesome portions" doesn't actually help me figure out what it is you find troublesome. I'm not going to do your homework -- go ahead and provide an example of what you find troublesome, and we can absolutely discuss it. I won't attempt to dissuade you from finding it troubling or explain to you why it isn't, I promise.
posted by Etrigan at 10:46 AM on November 9, 2015


we as adult human beings can have a productive discussion of whether a performance is troublesome.

Wow, did I misstate that.

What I meant was that we as adult human beings can have a productive discussion of the aspects of a performance that one of us finds troubling. I did not in any way mean to say that I would ever refuse to acknowledge that you are allowed to be troubled by anything.
posted by Etrigan at 10:55 AM on November 9, 2015


Thanks Etrigan. My homework is done, turned in, and graded, believe me. I'd never try to get you to identify for me, what is troubling about what she does and what she did on this particular show. I'm not even sure how that would work, or why I'd be adamant that her performance is troubling, but then not actually have any troubling elements to note. That doesn't make much sense. But if it is getting hard to follow because of our posts, I responded to you asking you to post the troublesome elements, because if you already know and acknowledge those, then that's fine.

If I say Chris Rock saying something is troublesome, then you point out how yes it is, but it needed to be said because of this history A and this context B, and statement from Rock himself C, then we can discuss that and probably just differ over personal choice.

However, if I say it's troublesome and you insist there are no problematic elements, and I then point them out, it shows that in fact there are elements of the situation you aren't aware of.

So we're trying to avoid that whole "oh sure, I knew about that". "Well of course I considered that." thing.
posted by cashman at 11:25 AM on November 9, 2015


Additionally, you get to characterize the elements that are troublesome. So if someone says something and mentions a rape joke in passing like it's no big deal, then that adds information. But if you say "And then Leslie makes this statement here, which really is horrible to say, but I chuckled" it's different than just saying "Leslie's (nonexistant) rape joke was hilarious!"
posted by cashman at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2015


However, if I say it's troublesome and you insist there are no problematic elements, and I then point them out, it shows that in fact there are elements of the situation you aren't aware of.

I freely admit that there could well be elements of the situation I'm not aware of. I'm asking you to tell me what those elements are. And I realize that may come off as "Educate me!", but honestly, I don't even remember the topic of her bit at this point, much less any specific jokes.

Your original criticism didn't allude to anything being troublesome, so I took it as you thinking she's not funny. As I note (and have noted before, and I think came across in my original "enemy of fun" response, but I could be wrong), the idea that one can objectively determine the funniness of a performance or a person is ridiculous. My response was entirely sarcastic. If that didn't come across, I apologize for not making it more clear.

You then brought up that you found something troublesome about her performance (which I am assuming you mean to refer to some racial/gender/social aspect of the performance, and not just that you find it troubling that she is not funny). I would certainly be willing to discuss what about it you found troublesome, but I think it is unfair for you to insist that I first tell you what I didn't find troublesome about it.
posted by Etrigan at 11:38 AM on November 9, 2015


Larry David will get the $5K for calling Trump a racist.
posted by Etrigan at 11:52 AM on November 9, 2015


If you don't even remember the topic at this point, then there isn't going to be much of a discussion if I'm pointing out the nuances of various statements she made, her demeanor, and the consequences of her portrayals and expressions.

I actually thought it was funny that you jokingly said I was an enemy of fun. I didn't take that in a bad way at all.

I think it is unfair for you to insist that I first tell you what I didn't find troublesome about it.

"Something wrong? Yeah. It's just too bad you don't know what it is."
posted by cashman at 11:57 AM on November 9, 2015


Etrigan and Cashman - get a room, you guys, seriously.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on November 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


Only if there's candlelight and Netflix. We could just chill, you know.
posted by cashman at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't mind Jones and sometimes her go-for-broke style can be funny, but she forgets her lines and misses her cues and you can see her panic a little sometimes, and that is stressful to watch and not fun. She has some talent as a stand-up but she's clearly still a rookie as a sketch performer. Also, I thought this particular monologue was kind of gender police-y. All that stuff about men having no business saying "yay", etc.

Weekend Update has now switched to a format where instead of the hosts doing the bits as deadpan fake newscasters and the various "correspondents" being characters, the hosts and various cast members (as themselves) often just do monologues about what they really think. There are still characters, but it seems like Drunk Uncle, Girl You Wish You Hadn't Talked to as a Party, et al are kind of being benched so we can get brief stand-up sets. (I could be wrong, but I think John Mulaney was the first guy they tried this with, a few seasons ago.) It's actually a pretty major shift. IIRC, even the previous newsreaders with really strong personas, like Dennis Miller or Norm Macdonald, expressed their opinions through irony and sarcasm, maybe occasionally dropping character for a punchline. Jost (and Che in particular) will just give you a headline and then go straight to what they think about the issue.

It bugs me a little because it's such a departure, but at the same time maybe they had to do it. They were trying to still do it Seth Meyers-style and it just wasn't working anymore. The hosts and the fake correspondents weren't clicking right. Being (mostly) themselves gives the segment a little bite, at least. Che making his disdain for Trump clear wasn't hilarious, but it was nice to just have it out there without any pretense.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:14 PM on November 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Great point. I wonder if YouTube has anything to do with it. A while back I felt like YouTube and other entities with short videos available were really taking over comedy from SNL. There are a lot of different comedic personalities on YouTube and a lot of them just do that same kind of comedy where they throw a topic out there and talk at you for a few minutes.

So perhaps if you just imagine Leslie saying at the end of her commentary - "don't forget to hit the like button and subscribe!", it sort of feels like those videos.
posted by cashman at 2:35 PM on November 9, 2015


(I could be wrong, but I think John Mulaney was the first guy they tried this with, a few seasons ago.)

Belushi was doing this from the jump. Spade did it as "Hollywood Minute" during the first Bush presidency. They're doing it more nowadays, but they're not doing it new.
posted by Etrigan at 7:06 PM on November 9, 2015


True, but I think it was more set apart before, like Tina Fey or whoever would announce, "And now here's a new segment called (name here)" and then there would be a graphic and they would do a monologue. It was like, "I am so upset about this that I have to break character and just do a comic rant about it!" Also, IIRC wasn't Belushi's ranting (like the "but nooooo" stuff) kind of as a character? It's true, as I think back I can think of some relatively modern examples of previous anchors doing something like this on occasion. But these days it seems like the standard is more that we're watching two stand-up comics do their take on the news, and while we still see some characters like Riblet and stuff it's becoming increasingly common for the hosts to just hand the segment to other stand-ups for their own monologues.

As I said the change has improved the rather sorry situation Jost and Che had going before, but the more I think about the change in the context of SNL's history, the less I like it. We already have a gazillion places to see stand-up. If these guys can't do a decent Update without turning it into stand-up, maybe Riblet's right and somebody else should have their jorb.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:24 PM on November 9, 2015


It probably deserves a fanfare post on it's own, but Lorne Michaels was (finally) on the WTF podcast. It's a two hour interview and quite good.
posted by Gary at 9:37 PM on November 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Don't you just love how everyone hated the episode but it has huge ratings so they'll do this kind of thing all over again?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:41 PM on November 11, 2015


I did think it was an interesting moment when Drunk Uncle hollered "HER NAME IS BRUCE" out of nowhere. The crowd seemed more stunned than amused. SNL does not have a great record on trans issues, but I'm assuming (as with all of Drunk Uncle's bits) that we were supposed to be laughing at the pitiful, reactionary attitudes of the character and not buying into his bigotry. Again, making the character Trump's biggest fan, that's not exactly a ringing endorsement!

SNL has definitely progressed on trans stuff in recent years. When Bruce Jenner came out as Caitlin, I remember Colin Jost tying himself in knots over how to be respectful while handling this huge news story. Dennis Miller sure wouldn't have worried about that. Neither would Tina Fey, back in the day. (I remember her making a crack about Mr. Blackwell's List of This Year's Worst-Dressed Women He Wishes He Could Be.)

I feel like people watched a different episode than I did. I thought it was fine. Not a great night, but a solid C in a B- of a season. And I'm so lefty I'm still fuming over the tongue job they gave Sarah Palin years ago! I didn't see the bit about Trump's presidential dreams (I flipped away during a commercial and came back too late I guess) but otherwise there was nothing to suggest SNL was endorsing Trump and there was plenty of gentle needling and a fair bit of not-so-gentle needling.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:20 PM on November 11, 2015


Cut for Time: Donald Trump's Hair.

I won't try to defend this sketch but they won me over with the tiny toy plane. It reminded me of early 90s SNL sketches with a mix of overacting and cheap, terrible practical effects.
posted by Gary at 12:39 AM on November 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


B - ... Would have been better if all of Trump's parts were played by Darrell Hammond.
posted by not_on_display at 8:26 PM on November 13, 2015


I thought the 'Hotline Bling' parody was really funny, and made me want to see more Jay Pharoh.
posted by Fig at 6:23 AM on November 14, 2015


« Older Powers: Devil in a Garbage Bag...   |  Adventure Time: Heat Signature... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments

poster