“Saturday Night Live” resumed its election-season tradition of bringing on political candidates to play themselves, inviting Nikki Haley for a cameo in its opening sketches this weekend.
Haley, who has tried to make use of comedy and popular culture as she trails former President Donald J. Trump in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, appeared in a segment that was presented as a CNN town hall event with Trump (played by the show’s resident Trump impersonator, James Austin Johnson).
Johnson fielded questions from other “S.N.L.” cast members, explaining how he planned to beat President Biden and would “stop Taylor Swift from infiltrating the Super Bowl.” The town hall moderators then introduced a question from an audience member “who describes herself as a concerned South Carolina voter.”
That voter turned out to be Haley, the former governor of South Carolina (as well as an ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration). “Yes, hello,” Haley said to Johnson. “My question is, why won’t you debate Nikki Haley?”
“Oh my God, it’s her!” Johnson said. “The woman who was in charge of security on Jan. 6. It’s Nancy Pelosi.”
Haley asked, “Are you doing OK, Donald? You might need a mental competency test.”
Johnson responded that he had taken such a test and received a perfect score: “They said I’m 100 percent mental.”
He added that men were better suited to hold political office than women, whom he declared “terrible with money — in fact, a woman I know recently asked me for $83.3 million.”
After the two exchanged further taunts, Johnson said that Haley was treating him badly. “I’m always very nice to you,” he said, “except when I’m implying you weren’t born in this country.”
The final town hall question came from the weekend’s host, Ayo Edebiri, who asked Haley: “I was just curious, what would you say was the main cause of the Civil War? And do you think it starts with an ‘s’ and ends with a ‘lavery’?”
This referenced a real-life question at a New Hampshire town hall in December, where Haley’s discursive response did not mention slavery.
She admitted, “Yes, I probably should have said that the first time.”
After her appearance on “S.N.L.,” Haley wrote in a social media post that she had “a blast tonight,” adding: “Know it was past Donald’s bedtime so looking forward to the stream of unhinged tweets in the a.m.”
Trump later seemingly responded to her appearance by posting a video on his Truth Social account that purported to show Haley making public statements over the years, contradicting herself on various topics.
Appearing on the show as a guest did not protect Haley from being teased later.
During the Weekend Update segment, Michael Che joked: “Nikki Haley has launched a series of campaign ads targeting both Donald Trump and Joe Biden called ‘Grumpy Old Men.’ OK, but at least they’re men.”
Opening monologue of the week
Edebiri, the comic actress and writer who won an Emmy and a Golden Globe award last month for her role on the FX series “The Bear,” continued her charm offensive in a monologue.
After appearing to get genuinely choked up, Edebiri explained how she’d grown up in Boston, “which makes me the first Black woman to ever admit that.” She added, “Three days into February, I’m already making Black history.”
She also talked about growing up in an immigrant family with African and Caribbean roots (“So you know what that means,” she said. “I’m in therapy”), and explained how cast members from “The Bear” prepared for their roles by working in restaurants. Though patrons generally assumed her co-star Jeremy Allen White was taking a Method approach to his acting, Edebiri said, “When they saw me, they’d just be like, ‘How much longer for my tilapia?’”
Let’s all go to the lobby of the week
After the AMC theater chain, ahead of the release of “Dune: Part Two,” introduced a limited-edition popcorn bucket intended to depict a huge sandworm, the design inspired more than its share of social media posts from observers who thought it looked like many other things.
But no one went quite as far with these comparisons as Marcello Hernández, who led a musical ode to the collectible bucket, which he serenaded as though it were a romantic partner.
Among the few portions we can safely quote here, Hernández sang, “Play my heartstrings just like a fiddle / and I’m not scared of the teeth in the middle.”
Weekend Update jokes of the week
Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Che riffed on the 2024 presidential election and right-wing conspiracy theories surrounding the relationship of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
Just hours ago, President Biden won the South Carolina Democratic primary, barely edging out his closest rival, time. As you may have seen on your aunt’s Facebook, many MAGA personalities are claiming that the Super Bowl is being rigged so that Kansas City wins and Taylor Swift can come on to the field with Travis Kelce and endorse Joe Biden. Man, MAGA people have so many enemies to keep track of. You have to hate the N.F.L., Taylor Swift, Bud Light, Disney, Kristen Stewart for some reason, electric stoves, windmills, the concept of rainbows and the green M&M. And you have to think that everybody in the government is a secret pedophile, except for this guy dancing with Jeffrey Epstein. [his screen showed footage from an old video of Trump with Epstein.] I mean, isn’t that the happiest you’ve ever seen Trump? He’s dancing like nobody’s checking IDs.
President Biden made a drastic change in his immigration policy, saying he would be willing to shut down the border if given the power by Congress. It’s the kind of unexpected shift in direction Biden usually only makes in the middle of a sentence.
First appeared on www.nytimes.com