President Donald Trump’s vulgar language. Michael Wolff’s gossipy bestseller. Oprah Winfrey’s could-be presidential campaign.
The writers at “Saturday Night Live” had their work cut out for them this weekend.
The episode, hosted by Sam Rockwell, kicked off with a parody of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Joe Scarborough (Alex Moffatt) and Mika Brzezinski (Kate McKinnon) traded flirtatious barbs and slammed Trump for referring to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.” (Scarborough and Brzezinski are engaged to be married.)
The cable news hosts then turned to two special guests: “Fire and Fury” author Wolff (Fred Armisen) and former White House strategist Steve Bannon (Bill Murray), who was previously depicted on “SNL” as a ghoulish skeleton.
Armisen-as-Wolff told the “Morning Joe” crew not to fret about reported errors and inaccuracies in his smash-hit book: “What’s the problem? You got the gist, so shut up. You know, even the stuff that’s not true? It’s true.”
Murray-as-Bannon insisted the “Bannon dynasty is dawning” even after his ouster as executive chairman of Breitbart News. He had big upcoming plans: A web series on Crackle called “Cucks in Cars Getting Coffee,” a “new line of wrinkled barn jackets,” and a springtime skincare line called “Blotch.”
Moffatt and McKinnon, looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, then greeted another special guest: Oprah (Leslie Jones), “live by satellite.”
“Oh my god, it’s Oprah,” McKinnon said. “I thought I smelled lavender and money.”
Jones-as-Oprah touted one of her qualifications for higher office: “I’m different from Donald Trump because I’m actually a billionaire.”
“SNL” returned to political headlines at the top of “Weekend Update,” with co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che taking aim at Trump for his controversial remark about immigration.
“Trump saying something racist isn’t exactly news anymore,” Che said. “It’d be news if Trump said: You know what we need more of in this country? Haitians.”
More grist for Jost and Che: The Wall Street Journal report saying Trump’s personal lawyer brokered a $130,000 payment to a porn star to keep her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
“At least there’s one storm Trump will pay for,” Jost joked as an image of the Puerto Rican flag flashed on the screen.
Oprah’s possible presidential ambitions — or at least the frenzied speculation after her rousing speech at the Golden Globes — provided fodder for Jost and Che, too.
“Ugh. Can’t we just have a regular [president] for a while,” Che said. “Just a regular, boring old white dude president that smiles and shape-shifts into a lizard at night? I’m tired of all these fun ideas for president.”
Jost welcomed Oprah (Jones again) and her longtime partner Stedman Graham (Chris Redd) to detail her 2020 presidential ambitions.
Jones-as-Oprah said she would run because "I need to get white women back on track." They voted for Trump and Roy Moore, and "they kept 12 different shows about flipping houses on the air," she quipped.
The episode took a break from current events in most other sketches. Rockwell, who won a Golden Globe for his supporting turn as a racist cop in “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri,” performed a flashy song-and-dance routing during his opening monologue and served up some self-deprecating one-liners.
“Most of you probably know me as ‘that guy’ from ‘that movie.’ Not the main guy, but the other guy,” Rockwell said.