How do you follow up Brad Pitt as Anthony Fauci and Tom Hanks as… Tom Hanks? If you’re Alec Baldwin, you do it by retiring your divisive impression of President Donald Trump on the air. That’s what appeared to happen on the final Saturday Night Live at Home, and the last SNL before the summer hiatus. At the end of the cold open — which saw Baldwin reprising his Trump persona to address a virtual high school graduation featuring the entire SNL cast — the actor lifted his “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, dropped his Trumpian voice and addressed the audience directly: “Taped from my home one last time, it’s Saturday night.” (Watch the sketch above.)
Of course, it’s possible that Baldwin was only referring to the abbreviated end of SNL’s 45th season, which aired its last in-studio episode on March 7 — before the coronavirus pandemic shut down television production all over New York — and has been broadcasting remotely-produced installments since April 11. But on Twitter, at least, some viewers took his farewell as permanent.Mike Walker@New_Narrative
This isn’t the first time that Baldwin has suggested he’s done playing the current POTUS. In 2017, one year into Trump’s administration, he told Extra: “The maliciousness of this White House has people worried… that’s why I’m not going to do it much longer, the impersonation, I don’t know how much more people can take it.” He sounded even more determined to walk away from his Emmy-winning role in a 2019 interview with USA Today. “I feel like I’m done with that now. I’m so done with that,” Baldwin said. “I can’t imagine I would do it again. I just can’t. They should find somebody who wants to do it.”
If this does turn out to be Baldwin’s final SNL appearance as Trump, he made sure to deliver plenty of parting shots at the current resident of the Oval Office. Invited to address a Zoom gathering of St. Mary Magdalene By the Expressway’s graduating “Class of COVID-19,” Baldwin’s POTUS studiously overlooked the fact that he was pretty much the last person the high school seniors wanted to see. “People applauding, they’re applauding,” he said, willfully mishearing the sound of one person clapping as many people clapping.
In a sign that Baldwin taped his (possible) farewell recently, he addressed such up-to-the-minute developments as members of the White House staff testing positive for the coronavirus. “My valet got the virus, so I had to do my own makeup,” he said semi-apologetically. “I had to resort to a Liza Minnelli TikTok make-up tutorial.” And he kept the pity party going by reiterating that he’s “been treated very poorly, even worse than they treated Lincoln. Lincoln would agree. He’s probably smiling up at me from hell right now.”
But Baldwin’s Trump also had some words of wisdom and encouragement to share, listing all the jobs that are currently available to students as they head out into the world. Jobs like grocery store clerks, amateur nurses and, of course, coal miners. “Don’t forget about coal, it’s in the ground and you just dig down and grab it,” he pointed out.
“We want Fauci!” Beck Bennett’s student shouted back, which set Trump off on an anti-Fauci tirade. “Sure, everyone loves Fauci. Don’t you hate when these elite medical experts tell you what to do?” Instead, he jokingly demonstrated the proper way to treat a cough: Take a swig from a large jug of Clorox bleach, a.k.a. “good old invincibility juice.”Xe Murray@XeMurray
As he approached what may be his final series of jokes as Trump, Baldwin reached deep into his alter ego’s past. “I started as the son of a simple wealthy slumlord, and grew to become a billionaire, a president and the world’s leading expert on infectious diseases. Surround yourself with the worst people you can find, that way you’ll always shine. If you don’t understand something, just call it stupid … Live every day like it’s your last because we’re going to let this virus run wild. This virus that, remember, was started in a lab in Obama. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite inspirational quotes: Reach for the stars, because if you’re a star, they let you do it.” Talk about a retirement speech to remember.