While Donald Trump’s support in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination has seemingly plateaued, his popularity as an entertainer may be at its all-time high. It was only a few months ago when NBC announced that it was cutting ties with Trump as host of The Apprentice due to “derogatory statements regarding immigrants” he made during his campaign. In spite of that nasty split, NBC has swallowed its pride and invited Donald back to host Saturday Night Live on November 7 because – well – ratings are ratings.
SNL is no stranger to having politicians appear in its sketches – Hillary Clinton, after all, had a memorable cameo two weeks ago in the show’s 41st season premier – but I never recall one hosting in the midst of running for president. After a little research, I found that it has happened on three occasions: Jesse Jackson in 1984, Steve Forbes in 1996, and Al Sharpton in 2003. Like Trump, they were all three political “outsiders” but Trump is different in that he has hosted SNL before and has been a TV personality for years. Trump’s presidential run is pretty much an SNL sketch in itself so why not let art imitate life?
Trump hosted SNL for the first time way back in 2004 and – to everyone’s surprise – did a really good job. Why? He poked fun at himself – which exactly what a celebrity with his flavor of public persona must do on that show in order for it to be funny. I am not sure that The Donald will be as willing to allow himself to be the butt of the joke this time around.
Since then, Trump has become more and more thin-skinned – a trait that makes him an easy target for comedians. We all remember Seth Meyers tearing Trump to shreds at the 2011 White House Correspondence Dinner over his claims that President Obama may have been born in Kenya. C-SPAN’s camera cut to Trump looking like his head was ready to explode after every line and it was absolute comedy gold.
Then there was the time Trump oddly agreed to be the guest of honor at a Comedy Central Roast. He seemed like the last guy on earth that would voluntarily sit through a night of comedians hurling insults at him. He sat there grimacing through the whole thing like he was trying to tough out the passing of a kidney stone without letting anyone know.
During his presidential run, Trump has berated anyone who criticizes him – whether it be the media or an opponent – in any way by insulting their appearance or calling them “a disaster.” His decision to call Rand Paul ugly in a PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE was one of the strangest things I’ve ever witnessed.
The Donald has certainly not offered any proof in recent years that he has a bone in his body that will allow him to self-deprecate – which is the only way Trump will benefit from hosting. Will the 2015 edition of Donald Trump really be able to handle this?
SNL and NBC will benefit regardless of what type of Donald appears on November 7. Trump looking awkward or grumpy will arguably be just as entertaining as if he were to play along. However, I can’t help but believe that Trump has something to lose by squirming through the episode rather than embracing it. If he plays along with the jokes, he could very well come off as – gulp – charming. If not, he’ll look like a jerk. Either way, it’s going to be interesting.