Saturday Night Live typically takes a no-holds-barred approach when satirizing the American political scene — and last night’s episode was no different, with sketches taking aim at everything from the dueling town halls by Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Trump to the commander in chief’s “superspreader” campaign rallies.
After the president refused to participate in a virtual debate — the Commission on Presidential Debates changed the format of the second face-off due to coronavirus concerns — both candidates elected to host a town hall, during which they would field questions from the audience members.
Biden had already lined up a televised event with ABC when it was announced that Trump would be appearing on NBC News at the same time — a decision for which the network received backlash.
The cold open begins with a brief summation of what occurred on Thursday when both Trump and Biden took to the stage — characterizing the former vice president’s town hall as a “thoughtful, cogent discussion of the issues facing our country,” and the other as featuring “President Trump.”
The sketch then moves to ABC’s event with moderator George Stephanopoulus, played by Mikey Day, saying “the vibe we’re going for tonight is poorly attended college lecture.”
Biden — played by actor Jim Carrey this season — then enters the scene, shooting off finger guns and performing a dance for the “kids on TikTok” before taking a seat.
“Okay, Joe, let’s focus,” Day says. “Now. Are you ready for softball questions from folks who are already voting for you?”
The “channel” then switches to NBC News, where Kate McKinnon as moderator Savannah Guthrie begins by referring to herself as a “surprise badass” — the real-life Guthrie received praise for challenging Trump on a number of topics — and promising that any viewers upset with the network’s decision to not host the town hall at a different time would soon be thanking her.
“We have lots of voters waiting to ask questions, but I’d like to start by tearing you a new one,” McKinnon says. “Now, why won’t you condemn white supremacy?”
“I do condemn it,” Trump, played by Alec Baldwin, responds. “I’ve always more or less condemned it.”
In the first debate, Trump told the Proud Boys, a hate group, to “stand back and stand by” when questioned on the issue.
“Trump” is then pressed on a number of topics — from the Aryan Brotherhood and the KKK to QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory.
“They’re very pro-family, that’s all I know,” Baldwin says of the former.
In pushing back against Trump’s claims and defense of retweeting the falsehood that “Osama bin Laden is still alive,” McKinnon’s Guthrie retorts with a response akin to the one issued by the journalist Thursday.
“You can’t just do things like that,” McKinnon says. “You’re not just someone’s crazy uncle.”
The remainder of the cold open presses on in a similar manner, with the match-up between Trump and Guthrie depicted as a “WrestleMania" fight, and Biden portrayed as rambling but calm — in one scene, Carrey is dressed up as Fred Rogers and sings “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and in another, appears like Bob Ross while painting.
The show’s “Weekend Update” continued with Donald Jr., Eric, and Tiffany Trump — played by Mikey Day, Alex Moffat, and Chloe Fineman, respectively — joining co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che for a discussion on their father and the 2020 election.
“I’ve been out on the campaign trail, super-spreading my father’s message,” Day says.
When Jost asks Donald Jr. whether the president is concerned about national and local polls showing that he is trailing Biden, he begins to respond, “Dad isn’t worried about losing this election,” before Moffat’s Eric interjects with, “In fact, he’s terrified.”
Eric then pulls out a container of hand sanitizer and drinks from the bottle.
“Did you just drink that?” Day asks. “Dad said it was fine,” Moffat responds.
The sketch also poked fun at Tiffany Trump’s relationship — or supposedly, lack thereof — with her father. The real-life Tiffany recently received criticism for hosting a birthday bash in Miami, which Jost inquires about.
“Were you worried about spreading COVID to your party quests considering your father just had it?” Jost asks.
“Oh, no,” Fineman says. “Dad is always taking the 6-foot social distance role very seriously with me.”
In another segment of the Weekend Update, Jost and Che deliver parodied news headlines — with all the briefs tackling the Trump administration in some way.
“This week, President Trump held more coronavirus giveaways across the country as part of his herd immunity tour,” Jost begins.
Only a week after Trump was released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he returned to the campaign trail Monday to host a rally in Florida — his first major event since contracting the coronavirus.
Thousands attended the rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport in Sanford, Florida — many without masks on, and standing should-to-shoulder.
“He started in Florida, and showed off how healthy his brain is,” Jost continues, then playing a clip of Trump at the rally proclaiming how he feels “so powerful.”
“Yeah, nothing says I’m off steroids like screaming ‘I feel so powerful’ like Sloth from The Goonies,” Jost says.
Jost also humorously points out the lack of safety protocols at the president’s other rallies in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Representative Vernon Jones “literally crowd-surfed on the second wave of corona.”
Che took on NBC’s decision to televise the town hall with Trump, saying the network “has a type” — during which photos of Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby, and the president are all shown — and then questioning the purpose of such an event.
“Who are these town halls even for?” Che says. “I mean, who’s still on the fence about this election? Whether you’re voting for Trump or Biden, you’ve made up your mind a long time ago, and you’re probably not thrilled about it.”
The co-hosts also joked about Rudy Giuliani being a target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence and Trump purporting to know “nothing” about QAnon, among other things.
“How could you not know about QAnon? You’re on Twitter all day," Che says. “He’s probably just never heard the word QAnon out loud before.”