Donald Trump plays it safe on Saturday Night Live


Emily Ruthven, Around Creek Editor

More than 9.3 million viewers tuned in to Saturday Night Live on November 7 to witness Donald Trump host the satirical late night sketch show. This was Saturday Night Live’s biggest audience since a 2013 episode where talk show host Jimmy Fallon hosted and his partner in crime, Justin Timberlake, was featured. The 2016 presidential Republican  nominee candidate played it safe in the episode. SNL has had many guest appearances of politicians in past episodes, and most of the time it is because they want to show the public that they can take a joke, which tends to make anyone more appealing. Trump’s Democratic competition, presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, made an appearance earlier in the season for a sketch in which she was depicted as “Val the Bartender”.

In his best efforts to win over the votes of those anti-Trump, he said, “People think I’m controversial, but the truth is, I’m a nice guy. I don’t hold grudges against anybody.”

Despite Saturday Night Live’s habit of mocking politicians, the episode fell short of any real satire on Trump. 

“He bragged in his monologue, he really can take a joke, the jokes weren’t too hard-hitting,” Daniel D’Addario of TIME magazine said.

The most shocking event that occurred on the episode was when Larry David interrupted Trump’s monologue, shouting, “You’re a racist! Trump’s a racist!” While Trump jokingly shrugged off the accusation, critics are commenting that this was a clearly staged stint, which added no real value to the episode, despite being the most controversial thing that happened.

“Going into the episode of Saturday Night Live he hosted, Donald Trump told Fox News that he’d vetoed some sketches in order to keep from offending voters,” D’Addario said. Trump wanted to create an episode that only lifted him up in the eyes of the public. While his censorship of certain topics and sketches kept the episode clean, the show was a dud, according to critics.

“Donald Trump’s Saturday Night Live episode was worse than bad — it was boring,” Todd VanDerWerff and Caroline Farmke of said. But despite the negative opinions, the episode received some of the highest ratings in years for the NBC show. However, this was due to an overall curiosity of those who tuned in to view the episode, only to be left disappointed and bored.

“The sketches fell dead. The actors seemed checked out. Trump has clearly not been taking comedy classes in between campaign appearances,” VanDerWerff and Farmke said.

According to James Poniewozick of the New York Times, the studio audience didn’t give many laughs either. The audience “check[ed] out early, creating an energy-sucking vicious cycle”.

Despite the dullness of the episode, Trump was sure to not censor is trademark attitude consisting of arrogance and pride.

The episode included “MSNBC Forum Cold Open,” “White House 2018”, “Bad Girls”, “Live Tweeting”, “Hotline Bling Parody”, “Weekend Update: Leslie Jones on Gender Roles”, “Weekend Update: Drunk Uncle on Donald Trump”, “Rock Band”, “Crocker Family Dinner”, and “Toots Intro”, according to

Most of the sketches didn’t feature Trump much, and if they did, it was very brief and uninvolved.

“Many of the sketches didn’t touch on politics at all, and in those, Trump was a diffident, uncommitted comic actor,” D’Addario said.