“Saturday Night Live” is sure to have an identity crisis at some point in the future. The brand has become so tied to aggressive putdowns of our current commander-in-chief — building entire shows around it, pretty much — that one wonders where it will find its so-called comedy material when President Donald Trump no longer sits in the White House.
Political satire and all, it’s surprising nonetheless to see how partisan and one-sided “SNL” has become. Instead of delivering a middle-of-the-road comedy attack on all political and cultural sides, the show instead aims to please the extreme Left almost exclusively.
Save for one or two comedy bits that land each week, the series mainly throws its effort into political skits — and there are few laughs to be found in them. The political bits play like attempts at comedy written by rigid CNN employees. One imagines many devoted anti-Trumpers nodding their heads while watching — but it’s tough to imagine many laughing.
The latest installment of “SNL” was hosted by Chance the Rapper. It included hits on Trump’s two grown sons, as well as a cringeworthy song that served as a big wet kiss to former President Barack Obama.
Since the notion of so-called Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election is still all the anti-Trump liberals can talk about, the show on Saturday night naturally opened with an entire scene about it. The bit in question included Kate McKinnon as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — holding a business meeting with the president’s sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., in a parking garage.
It was all part of what the show dubbed “The Mueller Files,” named after Robert Muller, the head of the special counsel investigating potential collusion in the election.
Eric Trump was played as a complete buffoon. “I told him to honk the horn if he gets scared,” said Mikey Day’s Donald Trump Jr. to McKinnon’s Assange after saying he left his brother in the car during the meeting.
“Eric” soon joined the conversation and offered up bits like, “He looks like Draco Malfoy,” while looking at Assange. Donald Trump Jr. then asked for dirt on Hillary Clinton from Assange — and is provided with classified emails.
Again, it’s easy to imagine rage-filled liberals sitting at home nodding their heads at all of this — but who’s laughing? Where is the comedy? And what about other potential at-home audience members? Clearly the show doesn’t give a hoot about anyone else but its devotedly liberal and left-wing audience.
Chance the Rapper later debuted a new song called “Come Back Barack” — and it was the sort of uncomfortable salute to Obama that audience members should be used to by now from “SNL.”
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As a parody of the ’90s band Boyz II Men, the song shared lyrics like, “Every night, I turn the TV on and cry and I cry, and I cry. I say why. I feel like we’re all gonna die.”
In the “Weekend Update” segment, the show referenced the Sen. Al Franken sexual groping controversy — but it’s notable the bit was relegated to the “news” segment and not done more broadly. “Sen. Al Franken is being accused of sexual misconduct on a 2006 U.S.O. Tour by Leeann Tweeden, who posted this photo of Franken apparently groping her breasts while she was asleep,” said cast member Colin Jost, pointing to the by-now well-known photo of Franken and Tweeden. “Now, I know this photo looks bad, but remember it also is bad.”
Overall, it’s hard to know what “Saturday Night Live” is anymore, or what it aspires to be. It clearly goes after predetermined targets in large measure. Its number-one goal doesn’t seem to be comedy anymore, which is an absolute shame. There was a time that the show was sharply written and performed — providing unforgettable skits that kept people talking and laughing. That time is long gone.