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TV Critic’s Corner

When ‘SNL’ goes on break, time to stock up on antacids

Alec Baldwin as President Trump on “Saturday Night Live.’’ Will Heath/NBC via AP/Associated Press

The political world twists, recoils, and basically stands on its head week in and week out, hour after hour, minute after minute, push notice after push notice. We’re living inside a clothes drier that’s on a five-minute news cycle. Verbal dodges, soft denials, circular logic, puppet speak, defensive accusations, hidden motivations, post-campaign campaigning — every day is a winding road, as Sheryl Crow put it.

Throughout, comedy fans wait for Saturday night, when all the fresh hell will be processed and made just a fraction more bearable. In those 90 minutes of “Saturday Night Live,” the audience gets to laugh at the things that have been scaring and confusing them all week long.


So health alert: “SNL” won’t be back with new episodes until March 4, with host Octavia Spencer. Time to stock up on antacids, to keep the bile down.

The “SNL” audience has grown significantly of late, with the NBC show having its most-watched season in 22 years as each new episodes averages 10.64 million viewers. Partly that’s because the show’s political sketches have been so resonant and energetic, with Alec Baldwin’s President Trump, Kate McKinnon’s Kellyanne Conway, Beck Bennett’s shirtless Vladimir Putin, and Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer. And partly that’s because more viewers are in need of some kind of collective comedic release.

It doesn’t hurt the “SNL” numbers that at least one of its viewers is the president. Knowing that Trump is watching makes it all a whole lot tastier, even when the sketches are uneven. The political talk shows, too, help, dissecting the sketches as if they were part of the news, which, in some ways, they are. The sketches become tools for pundits when they make their points about the new administration.

So when “SNL” goes on break we are left without our weekly comic relief, our group therapy. Until then, lean heavily on Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers and keep all your favorite GIFs close to your heart.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.