Ever since President Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live back in 2015, news has trickled out from former and current cast members about their experiences with the then presidential candidate. Trump did something that no one has ever done or is ever allowed to do: improvise during the rehearsals and live show.
During a dress rehearsal on set, Trump told former SNLer John Rudnitsky that he was going to “riff.” “On set, he would be like, ‘I’m going to riff — I’m just going to riff here,’” Rudnitsky said. “By the way, nobody riffs on SNL. Not Will Ferrell, not anybody in the history of SNL has ever riffed. There are cue cards there for a reason, it’s live. And he went off on the show, and you can kind of tell when he’s trying to do a thing. You’re like, ‘Eh, you’re not a comedian.’”
At a table read, former SNLer Taran Killam and current SNLer Pete Davidson both mentioned (at separate times and in separate interviews) that they noticed that President Trump struggled to read. One could argue that Trump wanted to “riff” because he didn’t want to read the cue cards.
“He had trouble with the sketches, and if a sketch wasn’t complimentary about him — mainly physically — he wasn’t into it,” Rudnitsky said. “He’d go, ‘It’s cute, but no — next.’ He was just onto the next if it wasn’t about how great he was. I mean, there were some really funny sketches that he just didn’t get. His sense of humor is definitely skewed.”
SNL has been around since 1975 and because of that it has a pretty set system in terms of how it does things. The first few days of working with that week’s host, the writers and cast members (who are also writers) bounce ideas off of the host to see what they’d be into.
Then they refine those ideas in groups and decide whether they’ll make the cut.
If they do, they end up at the table read, where the entire cast of performers and writers read through the script for each sketch. The show actually has two shows: a dress rehearsal and the live show.
That episode of SNL was the lowest scored of the season according to critics. Still, the producers stated they didn’t regret having Trump as a host. SNL and Alec Baldwin won trophies at the Emmy’s Sunday Night — for their skewering of Trump on a weekly basis. Perhaps it was their way of getting back at him.