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SNL enlists Melissa McCarthy to turn up heat on Trump White House

Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on
Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on "Saturday Night Live."
Will Heath/NBC

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We're just two weeks into the Trump administration and Saturday Night Live isn't pulling any punches.

On Saturday's show, Alec Baldwin was back with his Donald Trump impersonation, playing opposite a cast member in a Grim Reaper costume who was identified as President Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon. 

But it was Melissa McCarthy who stole the show with her portrayal of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer:

Dave Itzkoff, culture reporter for The New York Times, joined The Frame to discuss how SNL is finding new relevance in its confrontation with the administration.

Interview highlights:

On what's different about the approach the show is taking with political satire this season

The person that they are commenting on, who happens to be the President of the United States, is noticing what they're doing and has, up until a couple of weeks ago, been firing back at them on his Twitter account. Which is kind of unprecedented for, really, any President of the United States to seem to take umbrage at what any comedy show is doing. But this one in particular, for them to have gotten under his skin in the way they have, is really uncharted territory.

On the show's past history with Donald Trump

It's a pretty complicated dynamic that of course SNL, or any comedy show, wants to be able to satirize public figures and political figures, in the way that we all enjoy the right to. But they also have a lot of history with Donald Trump, both in terms of having parodied him as a character on the show, [and] he has hosted a couple of times, as recently as when he was vying for the Republican nomination. That was controversial when it happened. Certainly on some level it seems to be important to [Trump] that they give him the respect that he feels he is due, and so the fact that they are mocking him at all, but doing so in a fairly cutting way, that's really clearly gotten to him.

On how what SNL is doing compares with other late-night shows

SNL has this huge advantage in the sense that they are a sketch-based show. With the exception obviously of the "Weekend Update" segments, you're not looking at a person sitting behind a desk and riffing off of the news. They're sort of pretending to recreate events or act them out in front of you, so the satire just takes on a different dimension. They can comment on people in ways that the other daily late-night talk shows can't.


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