Cecily Strong Lists All the Ways Donald Trump Was a Nightmare ‘Saturday Night Live’ Host

Your favorite president doesn’t believe ‘The Giving Tree’ is a real book
Cecily Strong Lists All the Ways Donald Trump Was a Nightmare ‘Saturday Night Live’ Host

Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live got a lot of public grief for inviting Donald Trump to host the show back in 2015. (Well, it was in the middle of a Presidential election campaign). To hear Cecily Strong tell it, which she did on today’s episode of the Fly on the Wall podcast, the embattled billionaire caused plenty of private headaches as well. 

Host David Spade started things off, sharing a Pete Davidson story about Trump showing up for read-through — and refusing to read. “I don’t really read,” Trump supposedly said. “I sort of ad-lib.” Dana Carvey chimed in with his Trump impression. “I can ad-lib like nobody’s business!” 

Strong had a different version of the table-read debacle. The problem was Trump didn't bring his reading glasses to the table read, explaining “Oh, I didn't know what we were going to be reading.” Well, said Strong, it was the table read. (Trump borrowed a pair of glasses from Michaels — problem solved.)

Ivanka attended rehearsals for an appearance in a Medieval Times sketch. The script ended with a line for the Donald: “Told you! Turkey leg?” (In other words, Strong explained, the lines clearly communicated: “I told you so! Now how about a turkey leg?”) But instead, Trump chided Ivanka, “Told you, turkey legs!” like he was calling her a nasty name reserved for too-old starlets. 

“And then (Trump) looked at us like, ‘Okay, weirdos.’” 

As the table read continued, says Strong, Trump decided to take a personal phone call in the middle of the rehearsal. “So we all just waited,” she said. “I'd never seen anyone do that to Lorne. And he went, 'Uh-huh. Oh, that's great! My book just went to number one!’ We all just had to say ‘Wow. Wow.’ We had to applaud the moment.”

Then, says Strong, he asked to be put into the Drake ‘ Hotline Bling’ skit, a send-up demonstrating how dorky dads have terrible dance moves. For emphasis, she continues, “He asked to be put in that.” 

Finally, there was the Giving Tree sketch. The bit never aired, but it did make it to dress rehearsal. In the sketch, the Giving Tree gives fruit to hungry children while Trump, dressed as a neighboring tree, jeers its generosity: “You’re a sucker, you’re getting played, you should not be giving things to these people!” In a Huffington Post interview, SNL writer Bryan Tucker revealed that “Trump had to stand with his face looking out of the hole of this tree, and he did not like that. I don’t think he enjoyed looking like a tree. He was not into it and it showed, and it did not get a lot of laughs.”

But there was more to the story, according to Strong. Trump had another problem: He didn’t believe that the classic children’s tale The Giving Tree was a real book. “Gena (Rositano) always tells the story, she’s our stage manager,” Strong said. During rehearsals, Trump kept insisting The Giving Tree was “not a real book. And (Gena) kept saying, ‘What do you mean? That's a book!’ And he just did not believe that The Giving Tree (existed) as he was in a full tree costume. And I do have a picture in my dressing room from rehearsal, his face in this tree costume.” 

“Obviously,” she concludes about the #1 best-selling author, “he was not brought up on The Giving Tree.”

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