As you may have heard, Presidential Candidate and Political Cartoon Made Flesh Donald Trump is in 30 Rockefeller Center this week preparing to host Saturday Night Live on…well, Saturday night. When Trump’s hosting gig was announced last month, I remarked that it was unusual for a candidate, particularly one with a profile as high as Trump’s, to do more than a cameo appearance on the show mid-campaign, in part because too much can go wrong in the course of a 90-minute broadcast and in part because the candidates are usually too busy to participate in SNL’s six-day grind.
Well, it turns out that, according to Trump, he originally wasn’t going to host the whole show.
“Actually it started off as a skit,” Trump said during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday. “And I said, ‘All right, I’ll do it.’ And they took it up to Lorne Michaels, who’s an amazing guy, he’s run Saturday Night Live brilliantly for many years, and he’s a friend of mine. He said, ‘Well, wait a minute: Donald’s agreed to do this skit. Would he do the whole thing?’"
So, Trump agreed, and what will likely be the most-watched episode of SNL’s 41st season was born. It might be a brilliant move for Trump to take the SNL stage over the course of a full episode, particularly if he’s really willing to laugh at himself, but if you ask me the real winner here is Michaels. Every time a new SNL episode airs, there are at least a few critics more than happy to label the show irrelevant and fossilized. Michaels knows this, in part because he’s been hearing the same stuff for years, and he knows that by putting Trump in the host seat, he’s getting everyone – even some of those naysayers – to tune in. Whether the episode will be a bland exercise in keeping Trump happy, or a display of classic SNL irreverence, though, remains to be seen.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturday at 11:30 on NBC.