Playing amiable barkeep “Val” to Kate McKinnon’s anxious Hillary Rodham Clinton, the real HRC walked away with the premiere outing of SNL’s 41st season, kidding herself, singing “Lean On Me” and even hanging around long enough to introduce Miley Cyrus, who was doubling as host and musical guest. It was an A+ appearance (video above) in a solid B show.
The cold open featured Donald and Melania Trump (Taran Killam, new to the imitation game following prior Trump impersonator Darrell Hammond, and Cecily Strong) pitching his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination (“I’m not smart like Donald,” said Melania/Cecily. “I didn’t go to Hogwarts School of Business.”). Cyrus’ monologue was a “My Way” tribute to the fallen heroes of summer (Kim Davis, Entourage The Movie, Jared Fogle, Arianna Grande, etc. etc. etc.), but it was the first sketch that scored. McKinnon’s Clinton sat steaming with her aide Huma Abedin at a bar, as people around her talked up Trump. The camera soon cut to “Val” and the audience erupted at the sight of Clinton, in a starched open-collar shirt, offering soothing advice to her double, who ordered up a “scalding hot vodka.”
“Val” explained to the candidate that she’s just “an ordinary citizen who believes the Keystone pipeline will destroy our environment.” They had some fun at the expense of HRC’s johnny-come-lately position in support of gay marriage and on the much-debated subject of her genuineness, as McKinnon noted how easy “Val” was to talk to. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that,” the ex-Secretary of State and former First Lady confided. She even did a credible Trump, exclaiming, “Isn’t he the one who’s all ‘Ugh, you’re all losers! ?’ ”
“Val, I wish you could be be president,” McKinnon-as-Clinton said. “Me, too!” HRC retorted. Near the end, Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton entered the bar, looked from one HRC to the other and mumbled, “They’re multiplying!” before beating a hasty retreat.
That was followed by McKinnon and Clinton singing “Lean On Me,” after which the real Clinton disappeared, leaving, Cinderella like, only a tan leather pump in her wake as evidence that she had in fact been there.
Miley Cyrus BTW, was terrific in both roles, as a participant in sketches and as the best thing to happen to pop music visuals since Björk.