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Trump-isms (Or Not) From Primetime TV As He Prepares to Host 'SNL'
November 4, 2015  | By Alex Strachan  | 1 comment

The last time Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live, in April, 2004, he was Big Stuff, thanks to The Apprentice and his “huge!” presence on New York’s skyline. Trump assistants Carolyn Kepcher and George Ross — remember them? — made unexpected cameo appearances; Trump vamped opposite View co-host and would-be Celebrity Apprentice contender Star Jones in a backstage duel; and Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon co-hosted Weekend Update.

Those were the days! Hardly anyone knew it then, but Fey and Fallon were destined for post-SNL greatness, in separate careers no less.

Fey, SNL’s head writer at the time, would later say The Donald wanted to let go with the show’s trademark “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” cry, but she opted to give the moment to one of his assistants instead, “since he’s already a billionaire.”

The Donald was a study in braggadocio just the same, thanks to having the #1 rated show on TV, which he reminded SNL viewers early and often.

Fact-checking later revealed that The Apprentice was in fact the #7 rated show of the 2003-2004 season, behind a little number called American Idol and serial drama CSI.

To paraphrase the late, great John Huston, channeling U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt in the rousing 1975 adventure film The Wind and the Lion: why spoil the beauty of the thing with a minor detail?

Besides, fact checking is for losers.

The Donald’s appearance this weekend on SNL has to do with ratings, of course, and also equal time.

Hillary Clinton dazzled in SNL’s season opener last month in an unbilled cameo as “Val,” a patient barkeep and mother confessor to Kate McKinnon’s impersonation of Hillary as a chatty, slightly scattered presidential candidate at wit's end over being perceived in the media as a calculated, over-rehearsed autonomatron, her every move predetermined and choreographed by political handlers. Former SNL regular Darrell Hammond burst into the sketch as Bill Clinton — “My God, they’re multiplying!” he shrieked — and fled in terror.

It was the kind of inspired moment that has kept SNL on the cultural radar all these years, through seasons good and not-so-good. One doesn’t need much of an imagination to guess that Trump’s handlers, or possibly even Trump himself, took one look at the sketch and hollered: “Hey! What about me?”


You just know this weekend’s SNL is going to rack up the biggest, best, “yuge-est!” numbers of the season. Forget Miley Cyrus, Amy Schumer, Tracy Morgan or that wimp Matthew McConaughey, who’s slated to host on Nov. 21 with musical guest Adele. Adele? If she’s so great, how come she only has one name?

Trump is hardly one to ever be caught at a loss for words, script or no script. He never met a soundbite he didn’t like to say. SNL is going to be old hat to him.

See if you can spot when and where, or even if, Trump made the following pronouncements.

• “Every man should be king of his castle. And in this here castle, I am the king.”

• “This country was ruined by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

• “We don’t need no, what-do-you-call-it, alternative. All we need is something else to do..”

• “Well, in the words of Harry S. Truman, if it’s too hot in the kitchen, stay away from the cook.”

• “Listen here, professor. You’re the one that needs an American history lesson. You don’t know anything about Lady Liberty, standing there in the harbor with her torch on high, screaming out to all the nations of the world: ‘Send me your poor, your deadbeats, your filthy.’ And all of them nations sent them in here. They came swarming in here like ants. . . . All of them. And they’re all free to live in their separate sections where they felt safe, and bust your head if you go in there. That’s what makes America great.”

• “To close up is to close down. To close down is to go out of business. Never close, stay open all the time.”

• “Your opinion is important. . . . Your opinion is more important than anyone in this room. And I want to hear that opinion. I want these young people here to hear that opinion.”

• “Are you kidding, a walk in this town? You walk too fast, the cops pick you up. You walk too slow, the muggers knock you down.”

• “I don’t go around signing political documentaries just like that, you know. Even Abe Lincoln, smart as he was, he read the Declaration of Independence before putting his John Hancock on it.”

• “Don’t you know that California is sitting on a shelf out there? They call it the Pacific Shelf. There’s three states on that shelf: Oregon, California and Missouri. When the big earthquake hits, all them three states are going to be shoved right off that shelf there. They call that the Continental Divide.”

• “I must have died and gone to the wrong place. ‘Cause you all sure sound like hell.”

• “When He calls, you have to go. He don’t want no quack doctors down here trying to save you. It throws His schedule off, and when you get up there, you have to answer to Him. He’s going to want to know why you didn’t come when you were called,? Why were you late?”

• “Apologize? For what? For him trying to kill me? Did Abe Lincoln apologize to Alexander Graham Booth?”

• “Everybody hates Jersey. But somebody’s got to live there.”

• “Alright, then. Ipso fatso.”

Actually, Trump didn’t say that at all. Archie Bunker said all of those quotes, and more, during Carroll O’Connor’s nine seasons as America’s loudest, most famously self-confident TV patriarch on All in the Family from 1971-’79, and again on Archie Bunker’s Place from 1979-1983.

Norman Lear may not have written all Archie Bunker’s lines, but he signed off on them as All in the Family’s creator and executive producer. You have to wonder if Lear will watch SNL this weekend — and if he does, what he will make of it all.

We live in a volatile age, our judgments blown this way and that by the TV remote. If Richard Nixon can take the White House, why not this guy?

Back after these messages.

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Can't wait to see The Donald host SNL this evening. Ratings not withstanding, I'm glad that the parent network of MSNBC is standing up for freedom of expression. As we used to say, "You don't have the right never to be offended. You do have the right to change the channel."
Nov 7, 2015   |  Reply
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