Alec Baldwin has confirmed that he’ll once again play President Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live next season. SNL, of course, has been a late-night staple for NBC viewers for the past 42 years, focusing its comedy not only in original skits, but often lampooning prominent figures in the political landscape of the day. Various actors have portrayed U.S. presidents throughout the years, including Dan Aykroyd as Jimmy Carter; Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush (“Read my lips!”); the late Phil Hartman (and later, Darrell Hammond) as Bill Clinton; Will Ferrell as George W. Bush; and Jay Pharaoh as Barack Obama.
But with the never-ending antics surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election, SNL pulled out all the stops to mimic the outrageous goings-on in both the Democratic and Republican parties, handing cast member Kate McKinnon the duty of playing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and frequently ushering in Curb Your Enthusiasm star/creator Larry David in to play Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Leading the charge, though, was Baldwin, the 30 Rock star who found perhaps the funniest role of his career as Trump. The political mockery became so popular, in fact, that Baldwin appeared several times before and after the election as the business mogul-turned-commander-in-chief that would frequently draw the ire of the real POTUS — who vented his contempt of Baldwin’s portrayal over Twitter.
In an interview with CNN (via Variety), Baldwin says he’ll be back as Trump on SNL in the fall, noting, “Yeah we’re going to fit that in. I think people have enjoyed it.” The decision to reprise his impression comes three months after he expressed some doubts about returning to do the impersonation, telling Vanity Fair that because of the because “the maliciousness of this White House has people very worried,” he didn’t think he’d do the impersonation “much longer.” “I don’t know how much more people can take it,” he said.
Apparently bearing that in mind, the biggest difference between this season and last season, Baldwin says, is that audiences are going to see a whole lot less of him. Citing a his busy schedule, Baldwin tells CNN that audiences will be getting “a couple celery sticks” as opposed to a “whole meal.” How much “a couple celery sticks” means is yet to be seen, since the bulk of SNL’s political material is dependent on the president’s actions in a given week, and whether the show’s honcho Lorne Michaels thinks that can be translated into something comedic.
Baldwin clearly is in tune with something with his worries about going overboard with the impersonation, especially in the age of 24-hour news channels where you can’t click to a news station without hearing the name “Trump” within the first 30 seconds. Audiences sooner or later are going to suffer from political fatigue, and the last place they’re going to want to hear about politics is in a show that’s meant to take people’s minds off current events and just enjoy a few mindless laughs — even coming from a show that used political humor helped build its foundation.
If that fatigue sets in, SNL is going to have some tough decisions to make. If the show decides to follow Baldwin’s lead and back off a bit, it will be interesting to see what the show will do to maintain the best viewership it has had in 23 years. Otherwise, get ready to see a whole lot more of Melissa McCarthy’s Presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
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