Someone had to take a knee during the 43rd season opener of “Saturday Night Live.” Or say something about the NFL. Or about “fake news.” Or the last health care bill. Or Little Rocket Man. Or Puerto Rico. Or the mayor of San Juan.
Someone. But who? Alec Baldwin (suffice it to say) returned as President Donald Trump on Saturday with only one challenge: Where to begin with so much material to choose from? The crisis in Puerto Rico, as it turned out.
In a golf shirt with a pronounced paunch, Baldwin once again channeled POTUS as a clueless dolt who didn’t quite have a grip on anything other than a nine iron. Taking a call in the Oval Office from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — played by cast member Melissa Villasenor — he said, “I know things are, as the locals say, Despacito” (a reference to the summer’s biggest hit song, by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee).
He added, “We want to help you, but we want to take care of America first.”
Reminded by the mayor that Puerto Rico is in fact an American territory, he then hung up, and told his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant, back again in the role that’s likely to define her tenure here, too: “That woman was so nasty.”
“Weekend Update” picked up the theme — or reinforced it a little later — when co-anchor Michael Che suggested, “It’s hurricane relief! Go tell Melania to get some bottled water and food, and then write a check with our money, you cheap cracker.”
Co-“Update” anchor Colin Jost observed that Latin hip-hop performer Pitbull sent a private plane to help victims in Puerto Rico. “How is the president of the United States worse at humanitarian aid than Pitbull?”
Meanwhile, musical guest Jay-Z made his own political statement by wearing Colin Kaepernick’s jersey number, referencing the quarterback’s controversial decision to kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner” last season.
The season opener, hosted by Ryan Gosling, was broadcast live across all U.S. time zones.