In a week that saw George Santos join Cameo, the fourth GOP presidential debate, and a Fox News “Town Hall” with Donald Trump in which Sean Hannity was the only one allowed to ask any questions, there would seem to be plenty of fodder for Saturday Night Live to create a politics-skewering cold open. Instead, they made the unexpected decision to troll Claudine Gay, Sally Kornbluth, and Liz Magill—the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively—who testified in front of Congress on Tuesday about the alarming rise in antisemitic incidents on college campuses across America (including their own) since the Hamas-Israel war began on October 7.
To say that the hearing didn’t go well for the academic heads would be a massive understatement, as evidenced by Magill’s decision to resign her position, which was announced on Saturday; but SNL also struggled in trying to poke fun at the incident in this week’s meandering cold open.
The sketch, which was staged as C-SPAN coverage, saw Kornbluth (Chloe Fineman), Magill (Heidi Gardener), and Gay (Ego Nwodim) being asked, but ultimately sidestepping some pretty straightforward questions about antisemitism on their respective campuses. But it was “MAGA superstar” Elise Stefanik (Chloe Troast) who got the most attention with her performative outrage—both on SNL and on Tuesday. By way of introduction, the New York congresswoman warned that she would be “screaming questions at these women like I’m Billy Eichner,” then proceeded to do exactly that, beginning with: “Antisemitism: Yay or nay?” and “Yes or no: Is calling for the genocide of Jews against the code of conduct for Harvard?”
When Gay and Magill both gave non-answers to the questions, a frenzied Stefanik offered Kornbluth “the chance to steal,” but warned her to “keep in mind that if you don’t say ‘yes,’ you’re going to make me look good, which is really, really hard to do. So I’ll ask you straight up: Do you think genocide is bad?” To which Kornbluth responded with her own question: “May I submit an answer in writing at a later date?”
“Am I winning this hearing? Somebody pinch me,” exclaimed a visibly excited Stefanik.
Stefanik explained that she was there that day because “hate speech has no place on college campuses. Hate speech belongs in Congress, on Elon Musk’s Twitter, in private dinners with my donors, and in public speeches by my work husband, Donald Trump.”
The real star of the sketch, as usual, was Kenan Thompson, who appeared very briefly as the president of the online University of Phoenix, who just wanted to play with the heads of some real colleges. And whose brief appearance was just about the only part of the sketch to elicit any real laughs from the audience.
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