‘S.N.L.’ Takes on Trump and Biden’s Dueling Town Halls – The New York Times

NBC’s news division came under fire this week for hosting a town hall event with President Trump on Thursday night that competed with a similar program that ABC had already scheduled with Joseph R. Biden Jr.

But the conflicting broadcasts generated some content for NBC’s entertainment side, where “Saturday Night Live” lampooned the dueling events and took some satirical shots at the network for its role in the controversy.

This weekend’s “S.N.L.”, which was hosted by Issa Rae and featured the musical guest Justin Bieber, began with a voice-over that promised a re-airing of the two town halls, calling NBC’s event “a thirst trap for President Trump.” Now, the voice-over said, the events would be presented as most viewers had originally watched them: “Flipping back and forth, trying to decide between a Hallmark movie and an alien autopsy.”

The sketch opened on Mikey Day as the ABC moderator George Stephanopoulos, who explained that in his town hall, “The folks asking questions are half pro-Biden, and half anti-Trump.”

He introduced Jim Carrey in his recurring role as Biden, who took the stage in a pair of aviator sunglasses and making his familiar finger guns at the crowd. Day asked him if he was ready to receive “softball questions from folks who are already voting for you.”

Meanwhile, on the NBC side of the parody, Kate McKinnon introduced herself as “surprise badass” Savannah Guthrie and said, “If you were angry at NBC for doing this town hall, just let me get a few questions in and I think you’ll thank me.”

She welcomed Alec Baldwin as President Trump, telling him, “We have lots of voters waiting to ask questions but I’d like to start by tearing you a new one.”

In successive responses, Baldwin declined to distance himself from white supremacy (“I’ve always more or less condemned it,” he said), QAnon (“If anyone’s against pedophiles, it’s me, the man who was close personal friends with one of the most famous pedophiles on earth — rest in power, Jeffrey”) the Aryan Brotherhood (“They’re very pro-family, that’s all I know”) and the Ku Klux Klan (“Your car breaks down, you call Triple-K”).

Asked about his recovery from coronavirus, Baldwin replied, “I had a small fever. It was around 100. Celsius. But I did great. I never died, never saw hell or the devil. He never showed me a list of my sins. I was just alive and strong the whole time.”

Chloe Fineman played Paulette Dale, the audience member who told President Trump that he had “a great smile,” and Ego Nwodim was cast as Mayra Joli, who nodded enthusiastically during many of the president’s responses.

That brought out Maya Rudolph as Senator Kamala Harris, who said, “This is the last place I want to be, but somebody has to ask: What the hell is happening with that woman back there? Because I only nod that much when a waiter asks if I’ll be having mimosas at brunch.”

Over at the ABC debate, Carrey was shown putting on a Mr. Rogers sweater while singing, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” to his audience.

Back at the NBC debate, McKinnon was pretending to attack Baldwin with a chair in what had become a WWE-style WrestleMania match.

Finally, the candidates offered their closing statements. Carrey said that, if elected, he would have only one scandal: “I will mistake Angela Merkel for my wife from behind and tell her she’s got a rockin’ caboose,” he said.

Baldwin said to the audience, “Just ask yourselves America, aren’t you better off than you were four years ago?”

In response, a cartoon map of the United States shouted, “No!”

“All these protests and civil unrest,” says a weary Everyman played by Beck Bennett. “It’s clear that people are hurting. But how can I help when I don’t even understand what some people go through every day? I wish there were an easier way.”

In a voice-over, Kenan Thompson tells him that, in fact, there is: a new supplement, from the makers of 5-hour Energy, called 5-hour Empathy, that offers “five full hours of complete, intimate understanding of years of systemic oppression and ever-present racism.”

“That’s great,” Bennett replies, sounding less than enthusiastic as he resists the voice-over’s repeated efforts to get him to actually use the formula. (“C’mon, man, I’m not a racist,” he protests at one point. “I’m voting for Biden, what more do you want?”) His wife, played by Heidi Gardner, offers her own excuses for avoiding the product (“I don’t need that,” she says, “‘Cause I’m a woman. So it’s the same”) before Bennett hurls himself out a window.

ImageColin Jost, left, and Michael Che joked about President Trump’s coronavirus rhetoric.
Credit…NBC

Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on President Trump’s recovery from the coronavirus and the competing town hall debates that featured him and Biden.

Jost began by saying:

This week, President Trump held more coronavirus giveaways across the country as part of his herd immunity tour. He started in Florida and showed off how healthy his brain is by saying this. [a video plays of Trump saying, “They say I’m immune. I feel so powerful.”] Yeah, nothing says I’m off steroids like screaming “I feel so powerful” like Sloth from “The Goonies.” Then at a rally in Georgia, a congressman literally crowd surfed, I guess on the second wave of Covid. And yet somehow Trump seems to think he could lose the election. Listen to this. [a video plays of Trump saying, “Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”] Hey, don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. Because, by the way, no other country would accept you, because you come from America, which has way too many Covid cases. Though it would be very satisfying if this all ends with Donald Trump becoming an illegal immigrant. And to whatever country gets Trump, I just want to apologize, because we’re not sending our best or our brightest.

Che continued:

NBC held a town hall event with President Trump because, what can I say? We have a type. [an image appears showing Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer and President Trump] I’m starting to think you guys don’t like anything. Who were these town halls even for? Who’s still on the fence about this election? Whether you’re voting for Trump or Biden, you’ve definitely made up your mind and you’re probably not thrilled about it. These choices are so bad that Kanye’s running and people are like, Maybe? That wouldn’t have happened if we had actually good candidates. When Kennedy was running against Nixon, nobody was like, what about Little Richard?

In a desk-side segment on Weekend Update, Mikey Day and Alex Moffat made their first appearances of the season as Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. Day, as Donald Trump Jr., said to Jost, “I’ve been out on the campaign trail, super-spreading my father’s message. And Eric had his very first Zoom business meeting today.” Moffat, as Eric Trump, proudly declared, “I was muted.”

They were joined by Chloe Fineman, who played their half sister, Tiffany Trump. “The media got all butthurt ‘cause I was partying maskless in Miami with a bunch of randos on a boat,” she said. “But I mean, I’m a stepchild named Tiffany. It’s kind of my job to get faded on South Beach.”

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