10. 'Donald Trump Baltic States Cold Open'
It wasn't surprising that SNL continued to lean hard on Alec Baldwin's Trump impersonation for this season – nor was it surprising that these sketches felt painfully useless and completely unamusing as time went on, especially when our President's proclamations, antics and overall release-the-Kraken method of "governing" have only become more worrisome. There's an increasingly fiddling-while-Rome-burns vibe to these bits now, no matter how many cabinet members/peripheral political actors Kate McKinnon impersonates. "Weekend Update" provides the cutting political commentary; these POTUS vignettes are now just an excuse for celebrity cameos and Baldwinian schtick. To quote a slightly less problematic figure: That joke isn't funny anymore.
In terms of humor-as-catharsis, however, there was one big Trump-sketch exception. Go directly to the 6:30 mark in this clip, where the commander-in-chief answers a question from the press corps about whether his immigration policies have threatened the nation's standing in the world. "Here's the thing ... I don't care about America. This whole presidency is a four-year cash grab ... but I. Do. Not. Care. About. Any. Of. You." Even the way Baldwin's Broadway-style hand movements give the phrasing a musicality doesn't lessen the impact. It's somehow both a gag and not a gag at all – more like a cold, hard slap of truth embedded in an otherwise limp skit about Trump insulting his Baltic counterparts. We all know this is really what's happening, the show says. You can hear a tinge of temporary shock in the audience's laughter when he says it. And for a split second, in a season full of weak pokes at a morally bankrupt administration, you can feel SNL land a blow.
(In terms of non-"Update" administration jabs, judges would have also accepted the "What Even Matters Anymore?" game show, which was also worth its weight in righteous anger and Jessica-Chastain-guzziling-wine GIFs.)