Alec Baldwin appeared as the president to mourn the election results, and the host Dave Chappelle urged Americans to “find a way to forgive each other.”
By Dave Itzkoff
Just over four years ago, “Saturday Night Live” invited Dave Chappelle to host its Nov. 12, 2016 broadcast — the show’s first after that year’s presidential election. The tacit assumption, at the time, was that he would be the master of ceremonies for an episode that would serve as both a satirical farewell to the long-shot candidacy of the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, and a victory lap for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Needless to say, things didn’t work out that way.
Even so, “S.N.L.” put together a memorable episode that weekend, one that began — for better or for worse — with Kate McKinnon, as Clinton, seated at a piano and singing a somber rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (Cohen had died a few days earlier.) Turning to the camera, McKinnon said, “I’m not giving up and neither should you.”
Chappelle, in his debut appearance as an “S.N.L.” host, acknowledged in a lengthy standup monologue that he had not expected Trump to win the election, and wondered what would happen to America now that “we’ve actually elected an internet troll as our president.” He went on to say that “I’m wishing Donald Trump luck. And I’m going to give him a chance, and we, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one, too.”
One presidential term later, “S.N.L.” gave Chappelle the chance to host a more exuberant episode — a broadcast that capped several protracted days of vote-counting and aired just a few hours after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. secured his victory.
In another extended monologue that was variously comedic, reflective and deliberately provocative, Chappelle reflected upon his 2016 appearance and reminded Biden supporters that “it’s good to be a humble winner.”
“Remember when I was here four years ago?” he said. “Remember how bad that felt? Remember that half the country, right now, still feels that way.”
In an extraordinarily divisive time, Americans must “find a way to forgive each other,” Chappelle said.
A ‘Macho Man’ Departs
This week’s episode opened with a sketch that began as a lampoon of CNN’s election coverage, with Beck Bennett as a weary Wolf Blitzer and Alex Moffat as John King, whose fingers had been worn down to nubs from using touch-screen maps for 85 hours.
They announced that the presidency had been won by Biden and then brought out Jim Carrey in that recurring role.
“We did it,” Carrey said as Biden. “Can you believe it? I honestly kind of can’t. It’s been so long since something good happened.”
He added, “I’ve never felt so alive, which is ironic since I’m not that alive.”
He was joined by Maya Rudolph, reprising her role as Kamala Harris, now the Vice President-elect. “I am humbled and honored to be the first female, the first Black, the first Indian-American and the first biracial Vice President,” Rudolph said. Noting that she had a Jewish husband, she added, “Between us, we check more boxes than a disqualified ballot.”
The sketch also included a would-be concession speech from President Trump, played by Alec Baldwin. Speaking to the camera, Baldwin said, “I vow to all my supporters, I’m going to fight this thing to the bitter end. I will never give up and neither should you.”
In a callback to McKinnon’s performance four years ago, Baldwin stood up, walked to a piano and began to sing a mournful cover of the Village People’s “Macho Man.”