What were President Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence doing in a shower together? Why was Larry David making jokes about trying to pick up women at a concentration camp? Who thought it would be a good idea for Alec Baldwin, of all people, to take satirical potshots at Harvey Weinstein?
These were just some of the questions raised by this weekend’s head-scratching installment of “Saturday Night Live,” which was hosted by David and featured Miley Cyrus as musical guest. Even after an extra hour of sleep, we’re still not certain we can adequately answer them.
The cold open featured Baldwin in his recurring role as Trump, visiting Paul Manafort (played by “SNL” cast member Alex Moffat), his recently indicted former campaign chairman, while he is under house arrest.
“God, you’re screwed,” Baldwin told him. “You’re so, so screwed. It’s a shame you’re going to prison. Because I was about to give you a huge tax break. According to my tax plan, cut cut cut. Because it was named while I was having a small stroke. Speaking of cuts, do you have a good shiv you can bring with you to prison, Paul? Because after the stuff I’ve said about certain ethnic groups, they are really going to go to town on you in prison.”
After a quick cutaway to Melania Trump (Cecily Strong), the sketch returned to the characters of Trump and Manafort, who are now standing in a shower.
Baldwin explained he had to make certain that Moffat wasn’t wearing a wire. “I would never do that with you,” Moffat said.
Baldwin answered, “That’s what she said. Like, a whole bunch of she’s have said that. Speaking of which, what an idiot that Harvey Weinstein is. He could have gotten away with all of it, if only he’d gotten himself elected president.”
It was an awkward juxtaposition, at a time when a growing number of Hollywood figures are being confronted with claims of sexual misdeeds.
Baldwin has lately come under scrutiny for his friendship with filmmaker James Toback, who has faced widespread accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Baldwin said he had “no idea” that Toback had “done anything criminal.” “If that’s true, that’s news to me,” Baldwin said. “I never had any idea that Jimmy’s appetites took him in that direction.”
During a tribute on Thursday at the Paley Center for Media, Baldwin said, “I certainly have treated women in a very sexist way. I’ve bullied women. I’ve overlooked women. I’ve underestimated women. Not as a rule.”
On Saturday, Baldwin said he would suspend posting at his @AlecBaldwin Twitter account, following criticism of an interview he gave to PBS in which he seemed to blame some of the actresses who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
“You heard the rumor that he raped Rose McGowan,” Baldwin said in the interview. “You heard that over and over — we heard that for decades. And nothing was done.”
He added, “Rose McGowan took a payment of $100,000 and settled her case with him. And it was for Rose McGowan to prosecute that case.”
Following that interview, Baldwin wrote on Twitter, “my heart goes out to all such victims. My goal is to do better in all things related to gender equality. Au revoir.”
As for “SNL,” it still had another 85 minutes to go.
Uncomfortable monologue of the week
David, the creator and star of the HBO cringe-comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” took the stage by joking to the audience, “You tolerate me. You really, really tolerate me.” He then put that proposition to the test with a discomforting monologue that even his cable-TV alter ego would have had trouble getting away with.
“A lot of sexual harassment stuff in the news of late,” the real David said. “And, uh, I couldn’t help but notice a very disturbing pattern emerging. Which is that many of the predators — not all, but many of them — are Jews.”
After a long grimace, David said, “I don’t like it when Jews are in the headlines for notorious reasons. I want, ‘Einstein Discovers the Theory of Relativity.’ ‘Salk Cures Polio.’ What I don’t want? ‘Weinstein Took It Out.'”
David continued to think aloud: “You know, I’ve always, always been obsessed with women, and I’ve often wondered, if I’d grown up in Poland, when Hitler came to power, and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would.”
He added, “Of course, the problem is, there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp.”
Imagining how such an interaction might unfold, David said, “How’s it going? They treating you OK? You know, if we ever get out of here, I’d love to take you out for some latkes. You like latkes? What, what’d I say? Is it me or is it the whole thing? It’s ‘cause I’m bald, isn’t it?”