"Saturday Night Live" takes shots at Trump, Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez in "Deal or No Deal" parody

A new "Saturday Night Live" skit parodies Trump, Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez and the government shutdown

Published January 20, 2019 11:00AM (EST)

Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC/Will Heath)
Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC/Will Heath)

President Donald Trump's inability to strike a deal that ends his government shutdown was brutally parodied in the cold opening sketch for "Saturday Night Live."

The premise of the sketch was that Steve Harvey (Kenan Thompson) was substituting for Howie Mandel on the hit game show "Deal or No Deal" in order to help Trump end the shutdown. As Thompson's Harvey explained to Alec Baldwin's Trump, "Earlier today you went on TV and you told the American people that you wanted to make a deal. So we decided to do this in the only format that you can understand: a TV game show with women holding briefcases."

Baldwin's Trump summed up the president's insensitive attitude toward undocumented immigrants with a quip about how he would end the shutdown if he got "$5 billion for my border wall, and in exchange, I’ll extend DACA, and I’ll release the kids from cages so they can be free-range kids."

The sketch took shots at a number of the major political players who have been prominent figures during the shutdown crisis. Kate McKinnon played House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a person who is "normal, not drunk on my own power or anything" and whose offer to the president is "$1 billion + you say ‘Nancy’s my mommy.'" Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat) was mistaken by Trump as an "older Jewish woman on case four" and, after initially offering Trump "whatever you want" (McKinnon's Pelosi chides him for forgetting that they're not "caving in" anymore), suggests "$15 + pastrami on rye." When Melissa Villaseñor's jokes as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that Republicans are afraid of her because "I’m under 100, and I know how to use Instagram," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett) is shown playing Bird Box from the new hit Netflix movie.

"Saturday Night Live" didn't only parody the leaders and major political celebrities in Congress. Leslie Jones plays Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., as a tough idealist who threatens to subpoena Trump's tax returns after he insults her intelligence. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has a briefcase open which simply says "Whites," a reference to the Iowan's recent racist remarks that got him stripped of his committee assignments. Chris Redd's depiction of Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., opens his briefcase to reveal a placard that simply says "Cory Booker 2020." Finally the sketch included two non-politicians — Cardi B (Sasheer Zamata), who offers "shmoney," and Pete Davidson as a Clemson football player whose offer of "hamberders" (a reference to Trump's misspelling of "hamburgers" and his use of fast food as a feast for the victorious Clemson Tigers) is accepted by the president.

To this, Thompson's Harvey responded with a line that seems to perfectly capture the mood of the time: "Well, I guess that makes as much sense as anything else that’s going on these days."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa