Entertainment

‘It’s Time to Make America Cook Again’ — Please

'Saturday Night Live' tries, and fails, to be funny

It may be trying to use President-Elect Donald J. Trump as its main punching bag, but the “Saturday Night Live” version of fun is flunking badly. In the cold open of the latest episode, Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin was nowhere to be found — and the show seemed to strain for material.

Making a surprise appearance in an episode hosted by WWE wrestler John Cena, “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston popped up in a mock CNN interview, reprising his award- winning role as “Bad” protagonist Walter White.

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Introduced as Trump’s latest cabinet pick for head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, White was said to be “highly recommended by Steve Bannon.” Asked where Bannon found him, Cranston’s White answered, “The comments section at Breitbart” — referring to the news corporation that Bannon previously headed and which the Left has attacked.

White expressed support for Trump’s border wall, saying it means “a lot less competition for the rest of us” — referring to his character’s famed drug-making during five seasons of “Bad.”

Cranston also said he and Trump agree “it’s time to make America cook again.”

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Besides Cranston’s visit, Kate McKinnon reprised her role as Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. Asked about the president-elect’s recent Cabinet picks, McKinnon’s Conway said they weren’t good but “they are alt-good.” She said Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, was “ready to protect us all from the environment” — a play on criticism from the Left that Pruitt is not friendly enough to global warming initiatives.

The show did overall manage a more middle-of-the-road approach compared to past weeks. The reason may have been host John Cena, plus the musical guest, country star Maren Morris. The wrestler continued his rise in comedy after roles in films like “Trainwreck” and “Sisters” by hosting the show. In his opening monologue, Cena introduced himself by saying, “To those of you who voted for Hillary — I’m a wrestler,” as a nod to the wrestler’s red state appeal.

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Even the “Weekend Update” segment was not as polarizing. Though the hosts took the typical shots at Trump’s cabinet picks, the alt-right, and Trump’s tweets, they also managed to poke fun at Hillary Clinton. Co-host Colin Jost talked about South Korea’s recent impeachment of female president Park Geun-hye over corruption scandals — and drew a parallel to Hillary Clinton’s scandals.

“It’s hard to look at this story and not think, Tthat could have been us,’” said Jost as a picture of Clinton appeared on the screen. Jost also took a humorous swing at “SNL” host channel NBC over concerns about Trump’s conflict of interest in remaining a producer on the channel’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” “Only on NBC,” said a smiling Jost.

Related: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Still Isn’t Funny

Another segment poked fun at the president-elect by showing a firs- person perspective scene. Trump is shown  falling asleep while Mike Pence speaks to him, tweeting after seeing people on television criticizing him, and dancing with a John Cena-dressed version of himself. All told, though, the scene was mild compared to previous Trump=themed bits.

Make no mistake, “Saturday Night Live” still aims its satire in mostly one direction — but having an episode rounded out by Cena and Morris seemed to tame things a little more than usual.

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