Facing an onslaught of news surrounding the White House, Saturday Night Live attempted to juggle all the new details in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump in its cold open Saturday night.
Cycling through a nearly random progression of administration officials — including guest star Matthew Broderick as a beleaguered Mike Pompeo — the sketch tried to both hit on all the major stories of the week and earn laughs, but rarely at the same time. The sketch opened with Vice President Mike Pence, portrayed by Beck Bennett, speaking about the “impeachment farce” with Aidy Bryant’s William Barr and Kate McKinnon as a gnarl-handed, Skeletor-esque Rudy Giuliani.
The jokes weren’t about the news, though; they centered on things like Giuliani’s looks (he lived in the Central Park Zoo for a time, he barks) and Pence’s proclivity for calling his wife “mother.”
Then, Broderick arrives as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who, in real life, said on Saturday that he would cooperate with the investigation into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, even as he called it a “silly gotcha game.” In the first of two references to Broderick’s classic film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, a quick aside shows the House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff monotoning “Pompeo. Pompeo,” as he fails to appear for a scheduled committee hearing.
The gathered officials, reflecting on the volatility of the administration, mention that HUD Secretary Ben Carson is the only original Cabinet member still remaining. “Did somebody say my name?” asks Keenan Thompson as Carson, popping up in the doorway. He jokes that he’s been sitting in an empty office for three years and doesn’t even know the password to his computer. Barr leaves to help him, but takes his hat and coat — a sign he won’t be back. Pompeo, too, later leaves holding a suitcase. The show’s obvious implication is that Trump’s inner circle will begin jumping ship, although, in real life, this administration has been holding on.
In an already absurd sketch, the appearance of Finnish president Sauli Niinistö — literally, or at least televisually, from thin air — was particularly confounding. It seemed like an attempt to simply weave in as much news as possible into a six-minute skit. But then, perhaps it also says something about this political moment that his presence felt like old news — when, in fact, his meeting with Trump took place just three days earlier.
As Broderick’s Pompeo notes, “Impeachment moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it.”
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