“This is going to be something special”, said Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump as he opened this week’s edition of Saturday Night Live. The business magnate’s appearance on the show had been prefaced by weeks of controversy (over his history of racist remarks) with figures including LA R&B singer Miguel and advocacy group Deport Racism raising concerns about SNL lending their platform to Trump. An explosive show was expected – here are its five biggest talking points.
1. SNL’S WRITERS PLAYED IT VERY, VERY SAFE
Saturday Night Live has a reputation for roasting-hot political satire, but in this episode they backed away from Trump almost embarrassingly. Every sketch that involved him had been approved by his camp; not one challenged perceptions of who he is or what he stands for. This was at its most uncomfortable during the ‘Live Tweeting’ sketch, where his ‘tweets’ about a banal restaurant scenario played uncomfortably upon perceptions of Trump as racist. That these slightly risqué tweets weren’t even put out on Trump’s own Twitter account showed how toothless the satire really was.
2. TRUMP IS PAINFULLY UNFUNNY
It’s impossible to blame the writers for everything – Trump is just not a funny man. The former US Apprentice head honcho – who appeared on SNL in that guise in 2004 – was just like Alan Sugar in his jerky gesturing and unnatural autocue reading. And apart from a moment in which two of the show’s cast members impersonated him, there didn’t really seem to be much reason for him even being there, let alone hosting the show.
3. THE ‘HOTLINE BLING’ MEME IS FINALLY DEAD – AND TRUMP KILLED IT
The only humiliating thing the writers managed to coax Trump into doing was a parody of Drake’s oft-mocked ‘Hotline Bling’ video, in which the rapper dances his own unique routine. It’s now been two weeks since his video hit the web, so this – presumably a back-up sketch from last week – feels irrelevant. Trump’s involvement makes the whole sketch’s comedic vibe similar to when grandparent quotes lines from a year-old sketch show.
4. THE BEST MOMENT OF THE SHOW BELONGED TO LARRY DAVID
…or so it seemed. When “You’re a racist!” was yelled over Trump’s monologue, it seemed like something off-script and exciting might happen. Whether or not Larry David – fresh from playing Democrat hopeful Bernie Sanders – meant it, the moment was planned, a pre-emptive strike against anyone else disrupting the show with political issues, after Deport Racism offered $5,000 to anyone who would do do as David did. Reports suggest he’s planning on collecting the reward.
5. TRUMP GAVE THE SHOW ITS BIGGEST RATINGS SINCE 2012
According to stats from NBC, Trump’s SNL got the show its highest ratings since January 2012, and 47% higher than the season’s previous high of the Miley Cyrus episode where Hillary Clinton made an appearance. Perhaps not the best show in terms of quality, then – it earned an ‘F’ from the AV Club – but it certainly pulled in the punters. Was it worth it though?