‘Saturday Night Live’ with Trump earns best ratings in years

9 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Donald Trump gives ‘Saturday Night Live’ a ratings boost.

The Saturday telecast averaged a 6.6 rating and a 16 per cent share of the TV audience in the 56 markets that Nielsen tabulates for overnight ratings. White House wannabe Donald Trump wasn’t exactly a laugh riot as host of “Saturday Night Live,” but he was a big win for NBC, giving the show its highest overnight household ratings in nearly four years.

Billionaire tycoon and would-be US president Donald Trump was heckled and called a racist during his opening monologue as he guest-hosted Saturday Night Live. But the off-stage boo-boy turned out to be comedian Larry David, who moments earlier had performed his own impersonation of Democrat Bernie Sanders, who is also bidding to be his party’s choice to run for the White House. “I heard if I did that I would get 5,000 dollars,” said David with a shrug, echoing an offer reportedly made by pro-Hispanic groups protesting at Republican Mr Trump’s appearance.

But the well-publicised appearance by Trump falls far short of the 10.7 overnight rating the show received on October 18, 2008, when Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was featured. Saturday’s rating for the show was also up 53 percent versus its November average last year (4.3), proving once again that Americans will tune in to see Donald Trump on TV. “He is of great interest to the public, he’s still a curiosity and he has not worn out his welcome in terms of getting attention,” Boston University media analyst Tobe Berkovitz said. “As long as he keeps pulling the numbers, people will continue putting him on their shows because the ultimate goal is higher ratings. “The fact is, the public is very interested and fascinated by Trump.

Despite a 40-year history of lampooning politicians while inviting some to mock themselves as on-air guests, booking a presidential candidate to host the NBC sketch-comedy show was almost unprecedented. Once upon a time, not so long ago, there might have been a lesson to learn from Saturday’s boring and misspent episode — but that world no longer exists, certainly not where politics and TV intersect. They certainly like his act at this point,” Berkovitz said. “The question is: When it comes time to vote, will they like this act for president of the United States?

NBC expected a boost as Trump, the front-runner in the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination, has attracted viewers to news programmes and debates since the start of his campaign. That’s something that has not been determined yet.” Meanwhile, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton — looking to boost her own numbers as she feels the heat from Bernie Sanders — will kick off a two-day tour of the Granite State today by filing official paperwork with the New Hampshire secretary of state for the first-in-the-nation primary. Bring back the old America, I say, the one where our preeminent vehicle for topical satire would have ably skewered a hateful, nonsensical, vainglorious presidential candidate rather than invite him into the club and give him more of the empty-calorie media attention he seeks. Based on the overnight ratings, the number for Trump’s appearance was 53 per cent higher than the programme’s average for original episodes in November 2014. The Saturday TV platform granted Mr Trump fanned the flames of outrage sparked in June when he announced his Republican candidacy for president and described some Mexicans who are in the United States illegally as criminals and rapists.

NBC faced mounting pressure from a coalition of advocacy groups calling for him to be dropped from SNL for what one spokesman termed his “racist demagoguery”. Hours before the show, dozens of protesters marched from Trump Tower to NBC’s studio in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza, chanting in both English and Spanish and carrying signs. Mr Trump’s comments last summer spurred NBC to sever its Miss Universe ties with him while declaring he would never return to his The Apprentice role. Never mind that TV ratings are fast becoming an unreliable insight into American cultural sensibilities; Trump still regards them as the gold standard of existence.

After a passable cold-open sketch about Friday’s Democratic forum on MSNBC (a sketch that didn’t require Trump but featured Larry David’s second appearance this season as Bernie Sanders, the show’s lone buzzworthy invention this year), the cast members telegraphed an awkward vibe of reluctance when it came to performing onstage with the bombastic billionaire. Even jokes about their awkwardness being around him fell flat. “I don’t want to be in this sketch anymore,” said Vanessa Bayer, who played a sad-looking boy accordionist during a bit in which an offstage Trump pretended to tweet mean comments about the performers. (Bayer’s sentiment was a joke, but it didn’t feel like one.) The show’s writers also dropped the ball — or simply never felt like playing to begin with.

Occasional cameo appearances by the actual politicians lend both SNL and individual campaign efforts a topical frisson, especially in election cycles. Yet, ever since Tina Fey’s sensational run as 2008 vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, SNL has come to lean too heavily on its role as a place for political satire — even as far better political satire venues (led by Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”) stole the show’s thunder in that department. It’s entirely possible that the current crew at SNL — onstage and in the writers’ room — just isn’t cut out for the heavy comedic lifting that the 2016 election will require. This gang occasionally excels at making fun of celebrities (and themselves) and inventing strange characters, but they just aren’t ready for an election cycle that has so far proved to be more bizarre than past SNL casts ever had to handle.

That weakness can easily express itself as desperation — and desperation may be the reason SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels invited Trump to host a full show, rather than use him in a more traditional cameo. Instead of garnering great buzz from this stunt, SNL offended many, including all of the protesters outside 30 Rockefeller Center, who have legitimate complaints about what Trump has said about undocumented immigrants. On air, it seemed that no one was able to rightfully claim one protest group’s offer of $5,000 to anyone who could infiltrate Studio 8H and heckle Trump by calling him racist. From there, it was one dud after another — some of it featuring Trump, much of it not: Variety magazine clocked Trump’s total air time at 12 minutes.

A sketch set in 2018, in a wildly successful Trump White House, fell apart quickly. “Weekend Update” did a fair job of playing a little offense. (Co-anchor Michael Che, in reference to the title of Trump’s new book, “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again”: “Whenever old white dudes start talking about the good ol’ days, my Negro senses start tingling.”) The “Update” segment also made good use of Bobby Moynihan’s “Drunk Uncle” character — turns out he’s the ideal demographic for the Trump message. “Finally someone is saying the things that I have been thinking — as well as saying,” Drunk Uncle muttered. “It’s like I’m running for president.”

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