As you may have heard if you have a pulse, Donald Trump is hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind (well, there’s probably a Trump supporter somewhere who thinks the man just has terrific stage presence, but I digress…) that this is a move by the show, and by NBC, to score big ratings, because that’s what TV shows do. When SNL featured a cameo appearance by then-Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, it got 17 million viewers…at 11:30…on a Saturday…in 2008. That’s huge, and Trump is such a lightning rod right now that it’s clear he might be able to equal or even top that number.
But while comedy nerds like me are tuning in because we’re interested in how the cast and writers will handle Trump this week, there’s a darker side to this amusing little TV sideshow. Trump has a habit of saying things that offend people, you see, and some of things happen to be racist, and that happens to draw out activists who would like to spread awareness of Trump’s racism to, say, the millions of people who’ll be watching him attempt comedy on Saturday night.
So, how are they planning to do that? Well, we can’t speak for all of them, but Luke Montgomery – founder of the anti-Trump group Deport Racism 2016 (a reference to the candidate’s frankly bonkers immigration policy) – has made it very clear what he wants to do. Deport Racism’s website recently posted a contest of sorts:
“The DeportRacism.com Political Action Committee will pay $5,000 cash to anyone on the set of the show or in the studio audience who yells out or gets on camera during the live TV broadcast clearly heard in the TV broadcast saying ‘Deport Racism’ or 'Trump is a Racist.’”
To be clear, it’s called Saturday Night Live for a reason. There may be a delay of a few seconds for censorship purposes, but this is live TV. Sinead O'Connor once infamously tore up a photo of the Pope on the show. Jenny Slate dropped an F-bomb on her very first show, and got cut after one season. Many members of the audience sit just a few feet from the main stage, and one of them could easily sprint up during Trump’s monologue and take the spotlight for a moment or two. Sure, there will be extra security there for Trump’s appearance, but this is a living breathing show with a lot of moving parts, so who knows what might happen?
“We’re really hopeful,” Montgomery told The Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t really tell you much more than that. We don’t want to compromise any plans that are being made.”
So, now we have another reason to watch SNL on Saturday: Someone might make Donald Trump look really stupid, and they might not work for NBC.