Feb 3, 2020
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‘S.N.L.’ Imagines the Impeachment Trial That Could Have Been

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If you ended the week hoping that President Trump’s impeachment trial would go on longer, this weekend’s opening “Saturday Night Live” sketch imagined just such a scenario: a parade of self-serving witnesses that wasn’t necessarily an improvement.

This week’s episode, hosted by J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and featuring the musical guest Luke Combs, began with a voice-over lamenting that the president’s trial “wound up consisting of two weeks of dry debate and posturing, and will conclude without any witness testimony or new evidence.” Instead, the sketch promised “the trial you wish had happened.”

The scene opened with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (Mikey Day) vowing that he would conduct the trial with “complete disinterest” — only to be replaced by the reality TV host Judge Mathis (Kenan Thompson), who brought his own gavel with him.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (Beck Bennett) spoke on behalf of the president, remarking, “I just want to remind the American people that all men are innocent after proven guilty.”

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (Kate McKinnon) also advocated for the president. When Thompson asked her if she was worried about how history might judge her, McKinnon replied, “Where I come from, we have our own history books, and on the cover, a T. rex is handing a Confederate flag to Jesus.”

Thompson then called for the testimony of several witnesses, beginning with John R. Bolton (Cecily Strong), the former national security adviser. Strong said the president’s actions left her “deeply worried about the future of democracy,” but when Thompson asked her to elaborate on the contents of a forthcoming memoir, she said: “No, no, sorry, judge, no more free spoilers. But you can pre-order the book now. It’s called ‘Harry Potter and the Room Where It Happened.’”

Pete Davidson as appeared as Hunter Biden, entering the courtroom on a hoverboard scooter and explaining that he now sat on “the board of a Brazilian money-laundering company called Nepotismo.”

Alec Baldwin at last turned up in his recurring role as President Trump, entering the trial with the assistance of a walker.

“Your honor, I’m a very sick old man,” Baldwin said. “How could I withhold aid from the Ukraine? I can barely get around the house”

Thompson asked him, “Are you trying to Weinstein me right now?”

Baldwin replied: “In which sense? Because Harvey and I overlap in a few areas.”

There were further appearances from Alex Moffat as Representative Adam Schiff and Kyle Mooney as Joe Pesci’s title character from “My Cousin Vinny.” (“That is too dumb, even for this,” Thompson observed.)

Baldwin gave a closing statement in which he said, “Ladies and gentlemen of this government place, what I’ve learned from this trial is that clearly nothing I do or say has any consequence.”

Thompson nonetheless found him guilty, fined him $10,000 and ordered him to say one nice thing about Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

As you might expect in an episode hosted by an N.F.L. player on the night before the Super Bowl, there were a few sketches in this episode that dealt with football, including a fake ad for Oil of Olay eye black (“Oil of BrOlay”) and a segment that found Watt in an unusual recording session for a football video game.

Still, we’ll give the edge to this filmed sketch called “Robbie,” which models itself on inspirational sports movies like “Rudy.” It features Chris Redd as the title character, a spunky member of his college team’s practice squad who has never gotten to suit up for an actual game, and Day, Moffat and Mooney as his well-intentioned teammates, all of whom are willing to give up their spots so that Robbie can finally play.

Then there’s Watt as another fellow player, who makes it painfully clear why Redd should not be permitted anywhere near the field.

Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors, Colin Jost and Michael Che, continued to riff on the impeachment trial of President Trump.

“The impeachment trial is basically over,” Jost began …

… is a sentence I could have said two weeks ago when the trial began. We didn’t even get to hear any witnesses in this trial. And by the way, look at the witnesses we could have had. [Shows pictures of Lev Parnas and John Bolton.] You don’t want to hear anything from these guys? They look like the two characters in a video game who give you the best information. My questions for them aren’t even about Trump. My questions are like: “What’s your deal? Walk us through a typical day. What kind of food do you eat? Is it human food?”

He continued:

It was reported that President Trump pushed for the vote to be on Tuesday so that he could boast about his acquittal during the State of the Union. But now experts are saying that Trump might strike a more humble tone. And we actually have an advance copy of his speech: [Plays an animation of President Trump dancing to MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.”]

Che, shaking his head, picked up the thread:

What better way to start Black History Month than to be failed by the justice system. Why was this impeachment ever a good idea? We would have been better off just yelling, “Citizen’s arrest!” And why didn’t we get Alan Dershowitz? This dude was amazing. He somehow convinced the court that a president should be allowed to break the law as long as it’s good for the country. That’s like telling your girl you only cheated to practice being good at sex for her. You know what? That’s it, I’m a Republican now. I’m tired of losing. I can’t be a Democrat and a Knicks fan. It’s too much heartbreak, man.

Ego Nwodim appeared at the Weekend Update desk as Dr. Angie Hynes, a professor of African-American Studies at Rutgers University, who said that she wanted to spotlight figures who were not as well-known as, say, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks. Instead, Nwodim began by singling out a woman named Cynthia Woods, who she said “showed up at my wedding wearing all white.” Nwodim added, “She is black and she is history to me.”

She similarly called out an ex-colleague who had sent her inappropriate photographs; her twin sister, Angel, who may or may not have cheated with her husband; and the drugstore chain Duane Reade, which Nwodim called “black Walgreens” but dismissed for “locking up the lotion.”

“Duane Reade, you black, and you history,” she said. “CVS, welcome to the cookout, baby.”

Bowen Yang returned to the Weekend Update desk in his recurring role as the fictional Chinese government official Chen Biao, now promoted to the position of a health minister contending with the coronavirus outbreak. As Yang said of his character’s new gig: “It pays more and it’s a lot sadder. I guess I’m China’s new crisis queen.”

Yang explained that he and his colleagues would eventually contain the virus with “patience, diligence” and the use of Burberry surgical masks. He did not seem particularly bothered to hear that American Airlines was halting its flights to China.

“Oh no, I can’t fly American Airlines anymore?” Yang said sarcastically. “The only airline where if you ask for a Sprite, they say, ‘Is Sierra Mist O.K.?’ Who will I pay to throw my luggage in the garbage?”

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