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Friday, December 6, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A&E >  TV

On ‘SNL,’ Baldwin’s Trump tells Puerto Rico: ‘We have to take care of America first’

UPDATED: Sun., Oct. 1, 2017

In this photo provided by NBC, Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, left, and Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump perform during "Spicer Returns" on the television show "Saturday Night Live," Saturday, May 13, 2017, in New York. (Will Heath / Associated Press)
In this photo provided by NBC, Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, left, and Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump perform during "Spicer Returns" on the television show "Saturday Night Live," Saturday, May 13, 2017, in New York. (Will Heath / Associated Press)
By Elahe Izadi Washington Post

The writers at “Saturday Night Live” wasted no time incorporating the latest President Donald Trump-related news into the first few minutes of the show’s premiere.

Alec Baldwin once again returned to play Trump in Saturday’s cold open, which referenced the series of tweets real-life President Trump sent earlier in the day criticizing Puerto Rican officials’ response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

In the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump returns from a golfing outing in Bedminster, New Jersey, to take a call from the mayor of San Juan. “I’m sure she wants to tell me what a great job I’m doing,” Trump tells Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant.

She does not. “I”m begging you. Puerto Rico needs your help,” says Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz (Melissa Villaseqor).

“I know that things are, as the locals say, ‘despacito,’” Trump says, adding that help will arrive by Tuesday, “Wednesday at the latest.”

When Cruz tells him “that’s not good enough,” Trump responds, “Well, you should have paid your bills.”

“Ma’am, I don’t know if you know this but you are in an island, in the water. The ocean water, big ocean with fishies and bubbles and turtles that bite,” Trump continues. “We want to help you but we have to take care of America first.”

Cruz asks, “Wait, you do know we’re a U.S. territory don’t you?”

Baldwin’s Trump contorts his mouth and holds it open for several seconds before stammering, “I mean I do, but not many people know that.” He then hangs up on Cruz after she asked for help again, and tells Huckabee Sanders, “Wow, that woman is so nasty.”

It seems that, for the foreseeable future, “SNL” audiences will continue seeing Baldwin playing Trump. He just won the outstanding supporting actor Emmy for playing Trump on “SNL” during the last season, its most-watched in 23 years.

But will interest wane in seeing Baldwin’s approach to the latest Trump news? Will politics continue to dominate the late-night comedy show, in a way it only really does during election years? Probably, given how heavily the rest of the late-night comedy landscape incorporates political material.

But even if you think there’s a lot of potential material to work with, the news cycle now moves at an incredibly fast pace, and that can be especially challenging for a weekly show, when what happened on Wednesday is old news by Saturday.

This week’s “SNL” cold open – which referenced the NFL national anthem protests and a plea from Kate McKinnon’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions for Trump not to tweet – sent a message, too, of how exhausting it may be for a comedy writer critical of Trump to keep up.

“I know it may seem like what’s coming out of my mouth is ‘b-a-n-a-n-a-s,’ but it’s all part of the plan,” Baldwin’s Trump tells Bryant’s Huckabee Sanders. “The more chaos I cause, the less people can focus. They’re all getting so tired. So tired. Let me show you: How long ago did I declare war on North Korea and Little Rocket Man?”

She responds: “Um, four months?”

“Wrong, it was last Friday,” Baldwin’s Trump says. “See, I’m bending time.”

Wordcount: 525

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