In the 41 years that “Saturday Night Live” has been on the air, the long-standing live sketch comedy series has thrived on the special material that ensues during electoral years. This year has been no exception to that rule, with Kate McKinnon (“Ghostbusters”) and Alec Baldwin’s (“30 Rock”) respective portrayals of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump taking to the stage for one last laugh. With no debates left as comedic fodder, this week’s “SNL” focused on political commentary of Trump and the media’s coverage of the candidate’s transgressions versus Clinton’s email scandal with the FBI. This past Saturday’s episode of “SNL” is the last before the polls open, and McKinnon and Baldwin broke character during the cold open for an appeal for voters to get to the polls.
The sketch pushed Cecily Strong’s (“The Boss”) Erin Burnett together with McKinnon and Baldwin on her CNN news show, “OutFront.” Starting off strong, the sketch mocked Trump’s suspicious affiliations while Clinton was questioned over the ongoing investigation of her email scandal. After a brief interlude in which Trump pursed his lips for kisses coming from the likes of the FBI, KKK and Vladimir Putin and Clinton pleaded for America to reconsider our options, the camera panned out to Baldwin and McKinnon, alone on the stage. “I just hate yelling all this stuff at you like this,” Baldwin confessed, “Don’t you guys (the audience) feel gross all the time about this?” he questioned, turning to an audience that roared with laughter. The two held hands and dashed outside the Rainbow Room to join hands with Trump and Clinton supporters alike, returning not too long afterward to urge viewers to vote on Tuesday, regardless of the candidate they’re supporting.
One of the more noticeable and planned breaks in character for the series, the cold open succeeds in focusing on the exhausting controversies brought on by both candidates during the presidential race. McKinnon portrays Clinton as deeply exasperated, with her concerns over the election closing in and the closeness of the race showing through in the sketch.
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) hosted — a first for the 40-year-old British actor, who is fresh off of the Marvel film “Dr. Strange” — alongside musical guest Solange. In an excellent counterpoint to his stereotyped intellectual roles, Cumberbatch showed the silly side that he is known for during personal interviews and off-the-record taping sessions. Playing characters such as an emo British magician (obviously a play on Criss Angel) and a construction worker-turned-male stripper à la “Weekend at Bernie’s” style, Cumberbatch pulled his comedic side out for the camera. From an Apple iToilet advertisement modeled after the 1984 Mac commercial to another hilarious sketch, a game show titled “Why is Benedict Cumberbatch Hot?,” Cumberbatch explored his sexuality within his fan base, the self-titled “Cumberbitches” — a fact that Cumberbatch makes sure to clarify in his opening monologue. “Can’t they be Cumberfolk?” The game show in particular showed off Cumberbatch’s modesty, as Aidy Bryant (“Brother Nature”), Vanessa Bayer (“Trainwreck”) and Cumberbatch played contestants left to ponder the long-questioned mystery — why exactly is Benedict Cumberbatch hot? The answer — nobody really knows. Maybe it’s the hammerhead shark look.
Emmy winning comedian and “SNL” alum Dana Carvey returned as the “Church Lady” for Weekend Update, coming after Donald Trump in this sketch. Belligerently pushing Jost to accept his homosexuality and to spend his nights away from the criticism of social media, the church lady played on the material that has been surging around Trump’s Twitter account since his presidential run announcement. On a more lighthearted note, “SNL” alum Bill Murray also returned to the screen to root on the Chicago Cubs, following their recent World Series win against the Cleveland Indians. Overall, balancing the comedy standard of “SNL” during an election year with the cast’s more serious notes regarding the fast-approaching decision day was a daring move by “SNL” — but it certainly paid off in the end with McKinnon and Baldwin in the lead.