Don’t call it a quid pro quo. Saturday Night Live‘s cold open for the week once again featured the duck-lipped stylings of Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump — this time, parodying POTUS’ public reaction to the explosive testimony of his own inauguration donor-turned-appointee, with the assistance of host Will Ferrell, who balded himself up to become Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
Last week, the real Sondland pointedly used that three-word Latin phrase, which has become a sticking point in the impeachment inquiry, to describe what he and other senior officials in the Trump administration were doing in the Ukraine. Just like in real life, though, BaldwinTrump wanted to focus on another sliver of Sondland’s remarks, about a call which he gave eternal life to by way of a Sharpie scrawl.
“It’s right here in my notes of super important conversations I’ve had … This is me and Ambassador Sondland talking. He says to me, ‘What do you want?’ And I answer, ‘Two large pies, extra cheese, extra sauce’ — no wait, that’s a different phone call. Oh, here it is. I said to Sondland, ‘I want nothing. No quid pro quo, bro,’ OK? It’s right here in black licorice, case closed.” At this point, the SNL writers really don’t have to stray too far from a rote recitation to create these parody moments, but they still decided to tweak it a little and let Sondland get some post-testimony face time in during the same appearance.
After FakeTrump declared he doesn’t “know him know him,” Ferrell’s Sondland decided to join his boss and quipped, “Oh, right, right, right, right. Keep the quid pro quo on the low-low. Got it.”
Ferrell then sprinted into his opening monologue and began to talk about his excitement over hosting SNL for the fifth time, after having been a regular cast member for seven years, but his thunder was effectively stolen when he noticed Ryan Reynolds in the audience. Upon hearing that the 6 Underground star was a big fan of his, Ferrell was far too starstruck to finish his speech with any semblance of coherence.
“Can you just pretend I’m not here?” Reynolds eventually asked, after Ferrell kept stumbling over himself. “No way. It’s too late. I’m locked in. It’s like the rest of the audience has disappeared,” Ferrell answered. After Reynolds insisted that Ferrell finish his planned monologue, Ferrell refused. “No, the monologue is terrible. But you know what’s not terrible? Ryan Reynolds! Ryan Reynolds! He took Deadpool from the scrap heap and he turned it into box office gold!”
At some point during the exchange, Ferrell’s voice turned into a Tracy Morgan impression, which Ferrell said he defaults to during nerve-wracking situations, and that’s when Morgan himself arrived to defend Ferrell’s shout-style comedy and take the conversation into even more surreal territory. Why not?
The celebrity cameo party didn’t stop there, either. SNL‘s take on the latest Democratic primary debate also introduced Ferrell’s impression of Tom Steyer, alongside Woody Harrelson as Joe Biden, Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Bowen Yang as Andrew Yang, Colin Jost as Pete Buttigieg, Chris Redd as Cory Booker, Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren, Rachel Dratch as Amy Klobuchar, Fred Armisen as Michael Bloomberg, and Cecily Strong as Tulsi Gabbard.
Given the depth chart at hand here, most of the faux candidates only got to throw in a line or two, starting with McKinnon’s Warren who explained, “I know in the past I’ve been accused of being overambitious. I’ve got mom hosting Thanksgiving energy. I’m a little overwhelmed because I thought 10 people were coming, but now there’s 30 million. But I promise dinner will be ready if you just get out of the kitchen and stop asking questions.”
Next up was Rudolph’s Harris, who delightedly declared herself “America’s fun aunt” and insisted, “Tonight, I’m not going to worry about the polling numbers. I’m just have fun and see if I can get some viral moments. Mama needs a GIF.”
Although Rudolph invoked the real Harris’ Twitter account — no doubt, an answer to Harris’ social media love for her last appearance — to get in on the “I’m gonna tell my kids” meme, it was Dratch who earned some attention from her real-life counterpart Amy Klobuchar this time. After parodying her “$17,000 from ex-boyfriends” line and noting that her dancing hair was a distraction, Klobuchar had this to say:
Hey @TheRealDratch glad to see you’re back playing me on @nbcsnl as I’ve missed you since the Kavanaugh skit. Here’s a promise: I’ll plaster my runaway bangs down for the next NBC debate so long as they cut the air vents. Deal? #MoreHairspray
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) November 24, 2019
Other highlights from the episode include the “Heinz” sketch about that terrible moment when the ketchup bottle makes a fart sound at the dinner table, a re-imagination of the ending to The Wizard of Oz, Ferrell as Wally Culpepper the sketchy ventriloquist, and Weekend Update’s take on the week’s impeachment hearings.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC.