Twitter, predictably, has some complicated feelings about it.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) October 13, 2015
It was just announced that I will be hosting Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7th — look forward to it! http://t.co/D74EQyvR0P
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
— Mashable (@mashable) October 13, 2015
— E! News (@enews) October 13, 2015
But polarizing as Trump may be, the motivation for booking the guy is pretty straightforward: ratings. His September appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show reportedly brought the highest Friday night numbers that show had seen in 18 months, so it’s safe to assume SNL is hoping to replicate that success with this booking.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 12, 2015
But how much promise is there of live sketch comedy starring Donald Trump being enjoyable now that he’s a presidential hopeful? Let’s take a look at his first stint hosting the show back in April 2004 for some clues.
This segment is always a good gauge of how nervous the host is, and Trump seems very at ease on the stage. He does a good job poking fun at himself, and he even ad-libs a little bit when women in the audience give him flack for a dating joke. Is it laugh-out-loud funny? Nah. But if he’s not in his element, he’s at least element-adjacent.
“Boardroom Band Practice”
It’s kind of hard to mess up a sketch where you’re playing yourself and Amy Poehler and Fred Armisen are in a punk band with you. Trump talks his way through most of his lines without anything to write home about happening, and then Maya Rudolph and Poehler send you to riot grrrl heaven by harmonizing vocals on a song called “She’s Got Class.”
“Trump’s House of Wings”
This sketch dares to ask the question, “What if Donald Trump bought a wing restaurant in suburban New Jersey and filmed a commercial for it?” It’s very, very silly, and Trump gets pretty into it: He dances during the theme song, he bites his lip, he claps his hands. Heck yeah, Donald. Good work.
“Fathers and Sons”
Trump plays a character here! A dad! Who is grumpy! Because he thinks his son’s ideas aren’t good! So we’re not too far off from Trump’s public persona, but paired with sweetie Seth Meyers, it counts as acting. Then Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz come in and have a very hard time not giggling through the rest of the scene, so everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
“Live With Regis and Kelly”
We’re back to Donald’s safe zone here since he’s playing himself; they even work in a plug for his book. If you like Darryl Hammond and Amy Poehler’s Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa impressions, then great news. That’s what’s going on here comedy-wise.
My verdict? This episode will be fine. Tons of people will tune in, because tons of people love to have opinions about Donald Trump, and the comedy moments will come off good-to-OK as long as they let him play himself in sketches that rely heavily on crowd-pleasers.
Basically, SNL doesn’t have too tough a task on its hands here. Donald Trump’s not going create wild physical moments like Melissa McCarthy or sing and dance like Justin Timberlake, but he will deliver his lines, pause for applause, and let America enjoy laughing at him—and when you’re performing live, those aren’t the worst things to bring to the table.
Illustration by Tiffany Pai