It’s been almost 22 years since “Saturday Night Live” last found itself satirizing a presidential impeachment proceeding, but as the show turned its attention to President Trump’s trial in the Senate, it quickly reverted to its tried-and-true formula: a smidgen of factual detail, a dollop of celebrity cameos and a whole bunch of cultural references that may or may not be germane to the topic.
This weekend’s broadcast, hosted by Adam Driver and featuring the musical guest Halsey, began with a sketch set on Capitol Hill, where Susan Collins (played by Cecily Strong) and Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett) reflected on the trial to date.
“We all know this impeachment proceeding is a sham and a hoax,” Bennett said. “Republicans are simply requesting a fair trial — no witnesses, no evidence. That way we can acquit President Trump and focus on the real criminals in this country: teenagers who try marijuana.”
Strong said, “The evidence against Trump is pretty damning so I’m still on the fence,” then made an exaggerated wink.
The Republican senators welcomed the lawyer they said would be their star defense attorney in the coming days: Alan Dershowitz, played here by Jon Lovitz, the “S.N.L.” alumnus.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Lovitz said, “ ‘cause I’m not welcome anywhere else.” He was repeatedly admonished for mentioning past clients he has represented, including Jeffrey Epstein, O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bülow.
Then, abruptly, Lovitz acted out an apparent heart attack and the screen filled with smoke. When it cleared, he found himself in hell, where he was welcomed by Kate McKinnon, playing the devil.
“I used to let nobodies into hell but now it’s all influencers,” McKinnon said.
Among the notorious guests she introduced to Lovitz were Epstein, who was played by Driver.
“Great to see you,” Lovitz exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”
Driver seemed ever-so-slightly mortified as he replied, “Eh, just hangin’.”
Other visitors to Hades included Bowen Yang as the composer of “Baby Shark”; Heidi Gardner as Flo, the Progressive Insurance mascot; and someone playing Mr. Peanut, the recently deceased brand icon. (As Mr. Peanut explained, “I took out a lot of first graders with peanut allergies. Plus, I never wore pants.”)
Finally, Alex Moffat appeared in his recurring role as Mark Zuckerberg, identified here as hell’s I.T. guy. “I just want everyone to know that I don’t endorse evil,” Moffat said. “I just help millions of people share it.
If “Star Wars” has taught us anything, it’s that if something is successful once, keep doing it. Back when Driver hosted “S.N.L.” in 2016, he appeared in a parody of the CBS reality show “Undercover Boss,” playing Kylo Ren, his villainous character from the “Star Wars” series, attempting to go incognito among the bad guys he employs. That sketch was a hit, so why not give it a sequel? In this installment, Driver-as-Ren adopts the guise of an entry-level First Order intern named Randy, who uses the Force to obliterate a malfunctioning printer (as well as an admiral who berates him for botching his drink order).
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 started this week, and am I crazy or was Adam Schiff on my TV for 100 hours straight? Even when I turned the TV off, there was still an outline of him burned into the screen. What happened was, Democrats spent three days laying out in great detail how they believe President Trump has been the most egregious abuser of power in American history. And then Republicans laid out their defense, the shrug emoji. Mitch McConnell, seen here calmly watching an orphanage burn, defended his plan for the trial, saying, “The country is waiting to see if we can rise to the occasion.” I would maybe say you’re not rising to the occasion, considering one senator fell asleep, Rand Paul was doing a crossword puzzle and some Republican senators even brought fidget spinners to play with. I assume this symbolized how the Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves.
You’re better than me, Colin. I didn’t watch one minute of that trial. It was like a four-day long PowerPoint. This is supposed to be Trump’s punishment, not mine. This whole impeachment is like a bad episode of “Maury.” There’s all this evidence that Trump clearly cheated and Republicans are still like, “But Maury, he loves me.” Trump is so confident he’s going to win, he’s using Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyer to represent him. Talk about credibility — who’s his character witness, R. Kelly?
Melissa Villaseñor appeared as herself in a segment where she sang a series of songs about this year’s crop of Academy Award nominees. Each tune was set to the same bouncy bossa nova beat, like this catchy ditty about “The Irishman”:
This movie has a lot to offer
Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa
Gangster life gets kinda messy
Robert De Niro and lil’ Joe Pesci
It’s three hours long
They’re old and they’re young
And it’s white male rage
White male rage
White male rage
If you listen to Villaseñor’s other songs, which also address “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” “1917” and Greta Gerwig’s snub for directing “Little Women,” we think you’ll see a pattern emerge! (Hint: It’s white male rage.)
The premise for this sketch is deceptively, inanely simple: Kyle Mooney and Chloe Fineman are actors in a commercial for the budget menu at Del Taco, directed by Beck Bennett and supervised by an oleaginous Del Taco executive played by Adam Driver.
That’s it. That’s the whole setup for this entire segment, in which you will hear the line “Aw, man, I’m all out of cash” uttered so many times that you eventually slip into a hypnotic state where you never want to hear that combination of words again — until they inexplicably become the funniest catchphrase ever conceived. Look, it’s late, cut us some slack.