WATCH: Alec Baldwin's perfect Donald Trump in "SNL" presidential debate cold open

Alec Baldwin faced off against Kate McKinnon's ecstatic Hillary Clinton last night

By Salon Staff
Published October 2, 2016 12:51PM (EDT)

Frequent guest host Alec Baldwin made his first of a series of scheduled appearances on the season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" last night playing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. In last night's cold open, Trump faced off against Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon) in a recreation of Monday evening's presidential debate at Hofstra University. Michael Che played moderator Lester Holt, whose poker face gets a real work-out in this match-up.

The sketch begins with a shout-out to comedy icon Gene Wilder, who died on August 29 while the show was on summer hiatus. Holt introduces Clinton as "recovering from pneumonia," and McKinnon limps out on stage with the help of a cane, coughing, looking frail and close to death, before somersaulting down the stage in clear homage to the first glimpse viewers get of Wilder's candy mogul in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Things get less whimsical from there, but Baldwin savages Trump's weirdest debate moments and amplifies his verbal and physical tics, including the very uncomfortable way he pronounces "China."

"I'm going to be so calm and so presidential that all of you watching are going to cream your jeans," Baldwin exclaims, landing heavily — and creepily — on the last three words.

Former castmember Taran Killam, who had been playing Trump during the primary season, did not rejoin the cast this season. Baldwin, who has hosted more times in the history of the show than any other host, will be a welcome addition to at least the next several weeks as we head closer to election day.

Salon Staff

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