The Saturday Night Live writers must be working overtime to keep up with Donald Trump’s latest outrages, fuckups, and outrageous fuckups, and this week’s cold open was a case in point. It’s built around Russian interference in the election on Trump’s behalf and Trump’s choice of Exxon CEO (and Russian Order of Friendship recipient) Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. In other words, Trump news from earlier in the week that has long since been overshadowed by more recent fiascos—Trump meeting Kanye, Trump choosing an extremist for yet another post, Trump misspelling unprecedented, and, of course, Trump getting into a public spat with Vanity Fair over a restaurant review. And yet three of those four Trump disasters made the skit, despite one of them happening just this morning. (Which one did they leave out? The one with real consequences, of course!)
At the pace things are falling apart, it’s gotta be challenging for even a live show to feel current, and the structure of this sketch shows the approach SNL will have to take going forward. The big gags—Putin coming down the chimney, John Goodman appearing as Rex Tillerson—were drawn from the beginning of the week, while a few Mad Libs–style jokes were dropped in about whatever Trump’s done since then. Of course, if there’s one thing we know about the president-elect, it’s that he watches Saturday Night Live religiously, so expect him to try to game the system, scheduling comical, endearingly stupid blunders for early in the week and saving the real cartoon supervillain shit for Saturday afternoons. How was this week’s skit, though? It’s hard to judge it as comedy, exactly—but as a distraction from an unfolding catastrophe, it was better than The Pet Goat but not quite as good as Our American Cousin.