SNL: John Cena and Maren Morris – Slapping Donald Trump

 Saturday Night Live - Season 42

It seems oddly fitting that the Saturday Night Live episode that so accurately depicts the inner workings of the president elect does not offer up the pre-recorded segment on its YouTube channel. Season 42, episode eight of SNL, which saw John Cena as guest host and Maren Morris as the musical guest, gave the “resident” Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) a rest.

The show’s cold open featured Kellyanne Conway (Kate Mckinnon) and Walter White, aka Heisenberg (Bryan Cranston). This deviation from the “normal” open with the show mercilessly poking fun at Trump was amusing but referencing “Breaking Bad” (a show that ended in 2013) was not very topical.

The entire episode was a tad “meh” with some of the skits hitting their marks while others barely raised a smile. As The Guardian so aptly pointed out, John Cena is no Dwayne Johnson although he does manage to emit a similar sort of base sincerity from every pore like “The Rock.”

Cena appeared in several skits and his monologue was not overly funny despite help from some of the SNL regulars. It was delivered, however, with that trademark Cena sincerity.

The science skit was amusing, but once again, it was not overly funny.  The comedy was not new, this was “retread comedy” at best.  The Weekend Update was spot on this week with Michael Che nailing a number of pithy punchlines.

Colin Jost got one brilliant zinger in; lambasting not only the president elect but the SNL network NBC. This is also not available on YouTube for sharing either. (Although the entire show can be watched on Hulu.)

It could well be that the writers are having difficulty seeing the funny side of Trump. His latest peccadilloes have occurred too close to the upcoming presidential inauguration to be chuckle-worthy.

They did try with “Through Donald’s Eyes.” A pre-recorded look at how Donald Trump sees the world.  It was funny, but it was also scary as hell. Too much like a glimpse into the madness of a new leader who seems to have more in common with King George III to be really amusing, the skit could not even evoke hollow laughter.

What the sketch really felt like was a variation on a scene in the 2007 comedy film Wild Hogs.  In the film, the quartet of middle-class white-collar bikers are introduced to a game that involves “slapping the bull’s arse.”

Not understanding the rules of this new game the biker’s slap the creature’s nether region twice. The second time proves hazardous as the men are chased by the irate animal.

Trump, in this instance, is the bull (The presidential elect certainly acts like a bull in a China shop – as pointed out by Patton Oswalt.) and he has been slapped in the nethers more than once by SNL.  Only this time, they opted to play down the humor and to point out the obvious.

At the end of the sketch, Donald is attracted to himself (John Cena who wears the suit, red tie and a Trump-ish wig). This clearly points to Donald being, at the very least, a narcissist who cannot see past his own reflection. The man certainly cannot see past his own hubris.

Rather than end the review by pointing out John Cena’s initial, less than stellar, SNL  hosting gig, we will leave you with the Cecily Strong and Michael Che “pizzagate” sketch from “Weekend Update.”

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