Saturday Night Live returned in full force on Jan. 19, getting viewers right back into the swing of things will political skits, special guest appearances, and stellar performances from the cast. In the Trump era, viewers have come to expect the comedy sketch show to feature a political cold open and SNL's "Deal or No Deal Cold Open" about the government shut down didn't hold back from delivering fiery commentary on current events. During the sketch, Alec Baldwin and Kenan Thompson joined other SNL cast members to take aim at the partial government shutdown that has lasted 29 days so far — and is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The sketch is definitely a strong contender for one of the best cold opens in recent years.
Thompson, who plays Steve Harvey subbing for Howie Mandel, hosts a special episode of "Deal or No Deal: Government Shutdown Edition," in which Trump, portrayed as usual by Baldwin, responds to offers to end the shutdown from various members of Congress. His first offer comes from Kate McKinnon who expertly plays Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. She offers Baldwin "$1 billion and you say 'Nancy's my mommy.'" Thompson thinks the offer is reasonable, but Baldwin's Trump shuts the glass box and firmly declares, "No deal."
Next up with the briefcase is Alex Moffat playing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Moffat first offers Baldwin "whatever you want," but McKinnon's Pelosi reprimands him, and says, "No, Chuck, Chuck, we're not doing that anymore — we're not caving in." But Moffat's new offer of "$15 and a pastrami on rye" isn't much more successful and Baldwin rejects it with yet another, "No deal," even though Thompson's Harvey just reminded the Baldwin's Trump, "Every time you choose no deal, half a million federal employees work another day without getting paid."
Other briefcase holders included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as played by Melissa Villaseñor, and she shared her millennial take on her place in Congress, sharing, "Trump and the GOP are just terrified of me because I’m under 100, and I know how to use Instagram."
Rounding out the political figures in the sketch, Mitch McConnell was played by Beck Bennett, Maxine Waters was played by Leslie Jones, Corey Booker was played by Chris Redd, and Steve King was played by Mikey Day. Really, there weren't many big political names that SNL left out in this heavy-hitting cold open. One by one, all their deals are rejected until finally Baldwin's Trump finally accepts one from someone who isn't even a member of Congress. Yep, Baldwin's Trump accepts a deal from Pete Davidson portraying a Clemson football player holding a case of White Castle "hamberders."
Halfway through the sketch, Harvey pauses to thank the sponsors of this special edition of Deal or No Deal. The first sponsor is Green Beef, and Harvey admits, "Yeah, it shouldn't be green, but ain't nobody at the FDA to inspect it." The second sponsor is "Old Lady in an Inner Tube Way Out in the Ocean," and Harvey adds. "Yeah the Coast Guard will be back soon. Hang in there Beth."
Saturday's cold open captured various different frustrations with the shutdown, including the frustrating standstill between President Trump and members of Congress that has led to the continued government shutdown. President Trump proposed a new deal earlier on Saturday, Jan. 19, with three-year protection extensions for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to holders of temporary protected status (TPS) in exchange for his $5.7 billion for the border wall, per The New York Times. Unsurprisingly, Democrats did not want to agree to a less-than-permanent path to citizenship. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tweeted a response on Saturday, Jan. 19,
Democrats were hopeful that
@realDonaldTrump was finally willing to re-open government & proceed with a much-needed discussion to protect the border. Unfortunately, reports make clear that his proposal is a compilation of previously rejected initiatives.
Elite Daily reached out to the White House for further comment regarding President Trump's deal, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
This sketch also comes just following a time when many federal workers missed their first paychecks on Friday, Jan. 11, per USA Today, due to the shutdown, so it's clear that its effect is really starting to be felt. SNL also dedicated a segment to the shutdown at the beginning of Weekend Update with Colin Jost and Michael Che. "Well guys, we were off for a month," starts Jost. "But conveniently, so was the government."
SNL's first episode of 2019 was a strong one, and judging by the political sketches and coverage, it looks like the comedy show won't be holding back this year.