‘Saturday Night Live’: Seriously in Need of Laughs

Kate McKinnon as Jeff Sessions on a Forrest Gump bench? Talk about desperate ...

With the internet in a tizzy over President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets that he was the focus of Obama administration wiretaps, one would reasonably think that topic would be addressed on “Saturday Night Live.” Actress and host Octavia Spencer was fresh off her appearance at the Oscars and had a new film opening this weekend (“The Shack”) — but the way “SNL” has been going, Trump was bound to be the main focus of the night.

Kate McKinnon, as it turned out, played Attorney General Jeff Sessions as Forrest Gump in the cold open. McKinnon’s Sessions sat on the iconic bus bench and spoke to a random group of straight-men characters. What’s the connection here? Um — not too sure. It was a largely humor-free bit, in which a bus covers the camera and allows for new faces to show up (including the shirtless Vlad Putin).

There was the predictable riff on Kellyanne Conway’s Oval Office sofa photo controversy. Sessions held up a photo of her on the couch, and it was little more than effectively stealing the meme we all saw, with Gump saying, “She don’t have no legs!”

The show could have gone after Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) for making an inappropriate and sexually explicit joke about Conway, or even the internet’s strange obsession with a nothing photo. But “Saturday Night Live” instead chose to go after the Trump administration (surprise!) and mimic a meme that was already old news.


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One video segment was played as a dramatic movie trailer. The heroic character in the “film” is the lone Republican who stands up to the “awful” president. However, as a way of demonstrating that Republicans have rolled over each time for this “nefarious” leader each time, the main character was to be mentioned by name — there was an audio edit, with these words quickly added: “to be determined.”

Right. Because there have been absolutely no Republicans to publicly disagree with the president.

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You really get a sense of how blunted the rapier of “SNL” has become after eight years of neglect, especially during the well-known “Weekend Update” segment.

With the past seven days chock-full of news items worth snarking over, there was little incisive content. The harshest comment was about Trump’s claim of being wiretapped. Co-host Michael Che said, “Grandpa got into his twitter again.”

The show then took on President Trump’s address to Congress — though there was little to attack him on. So the show went for a reinterpretation. It noted that Trump received a 78-percent approval rating from Americans for his speech — which needed to be dismissed. Why? Because co-host Michael Jost made the claim that expectations of Trump’s literacy were so low he was bound to succeed. To the show’s credit, it did address the ridiculous Democrat response to Trump’s speech.

Rightfully mocked was the cornball production value of that response, and the fumbling by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. Nice to see that barb fly.

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Another weak jab came as a retort to Trump’s statement that we need to fix America. Our president was compared to a slumlord, with Che quipping, “If he ever does get around to it, he’s just going to send a Russian dude to do it.” Ah, originality.

There was one other barb for the Left: The show noted there has been no snowfall at all in January and February. “The snowflakes were shot before they hit the ground,” quipped Jost. Not especially funny — but at least the actor said it. Give credit where it is due.

There was a “guest” portion to “Weekend Update,” with “Eric Trump,” and “Donald Trump Jr.” sitting in. Mike Jost asked “Don Jr.” about whether his father still ran the Trump company — to his protestations. Meanwhile “Eric” was shown as having the mind of a five-year-old. It was minutes of just that. Starkly unfunny.

As the program cut to commercial, it closed with a wide shot. Kate McKinnon was posed on the desk like Kellyanne Conway, looking at her cell phone. They really had nothing for that particular fake news event — but they kept going to the well.

Eight years of a hands-off treatment toward the previous president has had a serious effect on this show. The cast has had the better part of a year to hone its skills, but so far these people are still in an election hangover that is incredibly unfunny. The best they seem to have so far is, “This Trump guy is HORRIBLE!” If they don’t develop their satire, it will be a very long and humorless season.

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