After her much-talked-about debut as Spicer last Saturday, McCarthy delivered a performance that arguably beat the original. And Alec Baldwin returned for hosting duties — his record 17th time, more than anyone else in the 42-year history of the sketch comedy staple.
In the show's cold open, which you can watch in the video above, the SNL producers answered the prayers of McCarthy fans. Setting the scene at a White House press briefing, "Spicey" was back at the presidential podium.
"I'm calm now and I will remain calm," Spicer says. "This is a new Spicey!" McCarthy's Spicer pulls out a gigantic piece of gum, unwraps it, rolls it up and uses both hands to stuff it into his mouth, laboriously chewing.
When asked by a reporter about President Trump's plans now that an appeals court has put his travel ban on hold, Spicer dismisses the question, soon afterward saying, "Don't eff with me, Glenn!" to the New York Times' Glenn Thrush (Bobby Moynihan).
In a dig at what some Trump critics call an underlying racism behind some policies, Spicer pulls out dolls to demonstrate how "extreme vetting" of refugees and travelers would work.
Showing a Barbie, symbolic of a "nice American girl," Spicer says, "We know she's OK because she's blonde." Then out comes Moana, a doll of one of Disney's latest characters, a teenage Polynesian girl with noticeably darker skin than the Barbie doll. "Uh oh," says McCarthy's Spicer, "slow your roll, honey." The TSA doll pats Moana down. "And then we're going to read her emails and if we don't like the answers — which we won't — boom, Guantanamo Bay!"
Spicer lists the terrorist attacks that the media "never even write about," including "the Bowling Green massacre — OK not the Kellyanne one, the real one! ... The slaughter at Fraggle Rock!"
McCarthy's Spicer objects to a reporter questioning his statistics after he comments on the murder rate in Chicago, saying, "Eighty percent of the people in Chicago have been murdered." Spicer pulls out a leaf blower to blast at a reporter. Before making a getaway on a motorized podium, he remarks, "That was me just blowing away their dishonesty."
Baldwin's return to hosting
The New York audience greeted host Alec Baldwin with resounding fanfare as he returned to center stage for his monologue. In his opening comments, the 58-year-old actor took cast member Pete Davidson on a trip down memory lane as the show flashed back to April 21, 1990, for his very first time as host. "I can't believe that's you, I mean you were so handsome," Davidson says. "You should have been in movies."
"I've been in movies," countered Baldwin, adding that he has a new one coming out.
"That's animation so they can't see you, very smart," Davidson says.
Baldwin even reflected on the classic NPR parody, "The Delicious Dish," where he introduced his character Pete's "Schweddy balls" to the NPR ladies.
In the next sketch to take a dig at the Trump administration, Kate McKinnon, who seems to be playing everyone these days, portrayed Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway in a dark Fatal Attraction-like presentation. In a sketch, McKinnon's Conway is a psychotic stalker, showing up in the home of CNN anchor Jake Tapper (Beck Bennett), clad in lingerie and threatening him with a knife in order to be back on TV again.
CNN reportedly declined to have Conway as a guest over concerns of her "credibility."
Putin, Sessions mocked as well
The regular "Weekend Update" news segment, hosted by Colin Jost and Michael Che, started with a barrage of jokes about the Trump administration's controversies of the week.
In one barb, Colin Jost says that the country has sworn in "our new Confederate general — sorry, attorney general," in Jeff Sessions.
In a 1986 letter that gained new attention thanks to Sen. Elizabeth Warren last week, Coretta Scott King said Sessions used "the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens." During "Weekend Update," Kate McKinnon was back — yes, again — as Elizabeth Warren.
Around 12:30 a.m., Baldwin finally reprised his Donald Trump character on a sketch of The People's Court. It was Trump against three federal judges who ruled against him over the travel ban. "I want the ban reinstated, also I want $725!" he says.
When time comes to call a character witness, Donald Trump Jr. begins to stand, only for a shirtless Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett) to burst through the door. "He's an amazing person, he knows me better than anymore," Putin says of Trump.
The final Trump reference was a video featuring Leslie Jones, an African-American woman, trying her skills impersonating Donald Trump, only for show head Lorne Michaels to tell her it's a no-go.
Thanks in part to the show's skewering of Trump, NBC says SNL is getting an average of 7.4 million viewers for each episode, and reaching the show's biggest audience in 22 years.
Alec Baldwin Sets ‘SNL’ Hosting Record, Melissa McCarthy Returns as Spicer
The show skipped its usual Baldwin-as-Trump cold open to allow the host to deliver his monologue clean-faced. Instead, Melissa McCarthy returned for an encore performance to open the show as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer after her much-lauded surprise cameo last week.
"I would just like to announce I am calm now," McCarthy said before launching into a feat of physical comedy that matched her first appearance lampooning Spicer.
"I've been told to cut back on the gum," McCarthy said in a nod to the actual Spicer's response to the "Ghostbusters" star's portrayal of him.
McCarthy went on to stuff an enormous stick of gum into her mouth, attack a reporter with a leaf blower, and lift her leg high into the air to show off a pair of Ivanka Trump-brand heels during an infomercial to shill for the first daughter after Nordstrom declined to pick up her fall line.
Baldwin showed up as Trump more than halfway into the show in a sketch that saw Trump appearing as a plaintiff on "The People's Court" against the three 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges who ruled against him this week.
"You understand this is a TV court," Cecily Strong as Judge Marilyn Milian asks Trump in the sketch.
"That's OK, I'm a TV president," Baldwin as Trump responds after accusing the federal judges of being mean to him. He goes on to bring out a bare-chested Vladimir Putin as a character witness.
"You're doing too much! I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me," the exasperated judge yells at Trump at one point, earning an applause break from the live studio audience.
Cast member Leslie Jones also got a chance to don the blonde wig in another digital short that saw her pitching herself as Baldwin's replacement to play Trump when the actor grows tired of his side gig. Jones' co-star Vanessa Bayer also briefly appears as Trump in the sketch. Rumors swirled earlier this week that White House insiders were upset that Spicer had been played by a woman, with some fans calling on the show to pepper Trump's cabinet with even more women.
A sketch this week that provoked mixed reactions featured Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway in a send-up of Glenn Close's character from the movie "Fatal Attraction." The counselor to the president, who has had a tough media week, breaks into the home of CNN's Jake Tapper.
"I just want to be part of the news," Conway yells at the startled Tapper, who earlier this week declined an offer from the White House to have her on his Sunday politics program "State of the Union," citing her lack of credibility after the "Bowling Green massacre" incident.
McKinnon's Conway has transformed since the election from a put-upon workaholic to a spotlight-obsessed maniac. The end of the pre-taped sketch sees Conway fall out a window and crash to the sidewalk, only to get up and pop broken limbs back into place, announcing: "I'm OK, but I only have three lives left."
Some on social media criticized the sketch, claiming that its portrayal of Conway went too far in sexualizing the White House adviser.
‘SNL’ Hits 6-Year Ratings High With Melissa McCarthy, Alec Baldwin
“Saturday Night Live” notched its highest rating in six years thanks to the return of Melissa McCarthy as White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Alec Baldwin’s record 17th outing as host.
NBC’s late-night mainstay grabbed a 7.2 household rating and 18 share in Nielsen’s 56 overnight metered markets, which cover about 70% of U.S. TV households. That marked the show’s highest mark in the overnights since the Jan. 8, 2011, edition hosted by Jim Carrey, which was boosted to a 7.8 household rating in part by an NFL overrun.
In adults 18-49, Saturday’s “SNL” scored a 3.6 rating — strong enough to beat the overnight demo scores of all primetime programs last week (that stat may change when delayed viewing is factored in).
The latest numbers, which will grow with delayed viewing factored in, will bolster “SNL’s” already strong performance in the Trump era. Viewership of the show for the season to date is up 22% in total viewers (10.6 million) and 19% in adults 18-49 (3.5) compared to the same period last season. That makes it the most-watched “SNL” season in 22 years, since the 1994-95 frame.
President Trump continues to provide a wealth of material for the “SNL” team. McCarthy’s second time out as Spicer generated a tidal wave of social media buzz. “SNL” trouper Kate McKinnon was the night’s MVP, appearing as Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren, all in Trump-related sketches.