“I'm going to give you the hits,” Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump promised, returning to the Saturday Night Live stage on Thursday for the show’s latest primetime Weekend Update special, which took on the president’s recent rally in Phoenix. “Electoral map, ‘drain the swamp,’ ‘lock her up,’ all of them. But first, I want to talk about Charlottesville. As we know, there was a tragic victim that came out of Charlottesville: me."
And lo, Baldwin’s Trump was back, baby, squinting, pouting, and complaining about the media treating him “so unfairly by reporting all my remarks — even the bad ones." (On the real Phoenix stage, Trump read his initial Charlottesville remarks out loud to prove he said decent things but conveniently left out the part where he insisted that the violence to come out of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally was the fault of “many sides, many sides.”)
Meanwhile, SNL veteran Kenan Thompson played the black man who stood behind Trump at the Phoenix rally holding a “BLACKS FOR TRUMP” sign, though Thompson swapped out his version for variations that read, “BLACKS FOR WHITES” and “CASH FOR GOLD.”
Then to close out the sketch, SNL’s take on Steve Bannon — played by a man in a Grim Reaper costume with a deep voice modulator — popped up to say goodbye after resigning, threatening that we haven’t seen the last of him. ("You've only made me more powerful!”)
The sketch was, in other words, exactly what SNL has been delivering with Baldwin’s version of the president for months: tweaks on Donald Trump’s already hyperbolic speech patterns, a joke about Mike Pence preparing to become president, pause for exaggerated pout, cut, print it, live from New York, it’s Saturday night! (Or Thursday night, as the case was this week.)
Baldwin’s impression of Trump has certainly become a lot more weary since he debuted it last year. And Baldwin himself seems concerned that he’s already worn out his welcome: In March, he even said that he wouldn’t want to play the role “much longer” because he didn’t know “how much more people can take it.”
But SNL has since confirmed that Baldwin will be appearing throughout the show’s upcoming new season to continue playing the role. So even though Baldwin was in character as Trump when he vowed in the Phoenix rally sketch that he would deliver his greatest “hits” — before rattling off a tired list of his trademark platitudes — he honestly might as well have been directly addressing the SNL audience instead.