It was inevitable the sketch show would spend this week’s cold open tackling the Trump impeachment hearings, leaving only two questions: how and with which celebrity guest stars? As of late, the deluge of political news has overwhelmed the show, leaving its sketches feeling more like stunt casting-packed humorous headline recitations than biting satire.
SNL showed a glimmer of its old spark by kicking things off with a cold open reimagining the impeachment hearings as a “Days of Our Lives”-style soap opera fittingly titled “Days of Our Impeachment” to “make sure people are paying attention.”
The only bit of stunt casting here felt completely natural (and actually has us wanting more): Jon Hamm as top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, William B. Taylor Jr. The other principal “cast members” of the soap were Alex Moffat’s House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Cecily Strong’s former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and Mikey Day’s “cross-examiner with a mysterious brain injury” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).
Things kick off simply enough, with the show’s Yovanovitch stating she only appeared because “I was a target of a smear campaign by President Trump and Rudolph W. Giuliani that left me publicly humiliated without a job,” prompting Jordan to yell that she’s there “because she loves attention.”
“Oh, yeah,” retorts Yovanovitch. “I love the glamour and the spotlight. That’s why I spent my career in Ukraine and Somalia.”
Things begin getting soapy quickly thereafter when Schiff announces “the president just sent a tweet,” a reference to an actual series of tweets the actual President of the United States actually sent out during the actual hearings that insulted Yovanovitch and stated “It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors. They call it ‘serving at the pleasure of the President.’”
“Let the record show the president is intimidating the witness,” SNL’s Schiff says, causing the show’s Jordan to shoot back, “If the president wanted to intimidate you, he’d shoot you in the face in the middle of 5th Avenue.” When asked if he’d considering impeaching Trump then, he replies, “I’d have to look at the facts, but no.”
Meanwhile, as happens throughout the sketch, a character played by Heidi Gardner faints from shock in the background.
As Hamm’s Taylor dramatically announces that he knows of a second phone call (cue Gardner fainting again), Rudolph W. Giuliani (Kate McKinnon) swings by, mentioning that “mercury’s in retrograde, so my powers are at an all-time high” and announcing a secret plan to “die in a mysterious boat explosion” should Trump ever turn on him. Seconds later, we realize McKinnon’s Giuliani actually means die, since he hasn’t considered faking his own death.
It only grows more and more absurd from there. Beck Bennett’s Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shows up to announce the Senate voted to acquit the president, just to learn the matter isn’t before the Senate yet. “Sorry for the spoiler,” he says. “Just tell me when I’m supposed to say it. Acquitted!”
Trump’s embattled Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland (Kyle Mooney) arrives with the revelation that he has amnesia and so when he said there was no quid pro quo, it was simply because he forgot there was.
“A Latin phrase!” yells a fainting Gardner.
Most of SNL’s best sketches play around in the absurd, and this one was no different. It makes the shift into utter lunacy when Pete Davidson shows up as Michael Avenatti, though in a meta twist, the character is clearly meant to be Davidson playing Avenatti, the joke being that Davidson doesn’t know who Avenatti is. “I’m that name you just said,” he says at one point, later asking “Who am I playing again?” and calling himself “Michael Avocado.”
He’s there to tell everyone Trump had an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. “That story line is like from last season,” Hamm’s Taylor says, while SNL’s Yovanovitch says, “Yeah, bud, we know. Nobody seems to care.”
Melissa Villaseñor’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) drops by to outlay the “red new deal,” which refers to her lips, and begins making out with Hamm’s Taylor.
Finally here comes Kenan Thompson as … wait for it … Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. Earlier this week (in real life) Garrett was suspended for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet. Thompson’s Garrett just wants to clear the air and let everyone know he was trying to help Rudolph put his helmet back on.
As SNL’s imagined critics said, It’s “the first soap where you can’t imagine any of the people in it having sex” and “a ridiculous melodrama that’s somehow less crazy than what’s happening in our government.”
Really, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Here’s to hoping SNL continues mixing things up and getting wacky with it. Sometimes, it helps to have a couple wild and crazy sketches in the mix to help show just how absurd things in Washington have gotten.