In one of Saturday Night Live‘s oddest and certainly most serious cold openings in memory, Kate McKinnon – solo, without Alec Baldwin or anyone else – performed the late Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in character as Hillary Clinton. “I’m not giving up,” she said after finishing the song, pant-suited and seated at a piano, “and neither should you.”
The song did in fact seem rather note-perfect for Hillary, with its lyric: “I did my best/It wasn’t much/I couldn’t feel/So I tried to touch/I told the truth/I didn’t come to fool ya.”
The opening appeared to answer at least one question: Lorne Michaels apparently has elected to punt on Saturday Night Live‘s new Donald Trump, at least for now.
After a pre-election fall season in which recurring guest star Baldwin played the GOP candidate to acclaim, good ratings and a “he stinks” vote from Trump himself, a re-casting of the Trump character was both expected and anticipated, since Baldwin had only agreed to a temporary gig, presumably until Clinton’s election.
Last week, Baldwin and McKinnon broke character during the cold opening to address viewers, pleading with voters to make the right choice. Though they didn’t say what that right choice was, they no doubt woke up Wednesday morning unhappy.
In past seasons, Trump has been played by Darrell Hammond (currently the show’s post-Don Pardo announcer), Taran Killam (whose contract was not renewed last summer), Jason Sudeikis (once) and, way back when, Phil Hartman. Of course, Trump played himself when he guest-hosted last season.
Other highlights of tonight’s episode: a pre-taped Walking Dead parody with host Dave Chappelle resurrecting Chappelle Show characters Lil Jon (“What!”), the Player Haters and blind racist Clayton Bigsby, among others; Chris Rock joining Chappelle for an otherwise Caucasian election night viewing party; and a purposely lame sketch that received an NFL-like post-skit play by play analysis. Musical guest was A Tribe Called Quest.