Alec Baldwin: ‘We Can’t Be Mean Enough’ to Mr. Trump on SNL

The SNL impersonator and his writing partner Kurt Andersen came to GW to promote their new book, a parody memoir written in President Donald Trump’s voice.

Alec Baldwin (l) and Kurt Andersen discuss their new parody book on President Donald Trump. (William Atkins/GW Today)
November 15, 2017

By Kristen Mitchell

Actor Alec Baldwin said after a few months in office he expected President Donald Trump to transition from the brash political style that got him elected into someone who appreciates the weight and responsibility of the presidency.

When Mr. Trump did not, Mr. Baldwin said, he decided not to hold back any blows in his portrayal of the president on Saturday Night Live.

“We can’t be mean enough to this guy,” he said to rousing applause at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium Tuesday evening.

Mr. Baldwin and Kurt Andersen, an author and radio host, came to GW to promote their new book, “You Can't Spell America Without Me: The Really Tremendous Inside Story of My Fantastic First Year as President Donald J. Trump.” It is a parody memoir written in the voice of the president if he were to dictate his memoir into his phone and straight to the printer. The event was cosponsored by GW and Politics & Prose.

Mr. Baldwin, a former GW student, was asked to come on SNL to play then-candidate Mr. Trump for a few episodes during the lead up to the election last summer when Democrat Hillary Clinton was expected to win. When Mr. Trump won, however, Mr. Baldwin returned to the show. He never expected his impersonation to be as popular as it has been, he said.

When Mr. Trump took office Mr. Baldwin hoped someone, like his daughter Ivanka Trump, would be able to get through to him about taking the office seriously.

The American president interacts with the best and brightest people around the world, he said, and they have the opportunity to shake hands and pose for photos with the “greatest Americans alive.” Mr. Baldwin assumed the president would react to the opportunity with humility after he took office, he said.

“I really thought this guy crossed a line in the last few months because I really expected him to change,” Mr. Baldwin said. “I thought he would take a deep breath and say, ‘OK I’m the president now.’”

While preparing to write the book, Mr. Andersen poured over transcripts of Mr. Trump’s unedited interviews with reporters to get a sense of how his mind works that does not always come across in finished articles. He wanted the book to be a parody, but written in a way that makes the reader think Mr. Trump could have actually said the things he does, Mr. Andersen said.

Without giving away any spoilers, Mr. Anderson said the book elevates the role of Barron Trump, who becomes an important consultant to the president. The book portrays the president’s young son as the smartest person in the family.

“Who but an 11-year-old boy would give this guy the kind of advice he needs,” Mr. Anderson said.

Mr. Andersen and Mr. Trump found while writing that certain things they parodied were actually starting to come true. They wrote Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which at the time was politically unthinkable by many. Before the book was finalized, however, Mr. Comey was out of a job.

Political satire is a way for people to see certain characters more clearly. It is a “wonderful and necessary form” of preaching to the choir, Mr. Anderson said.

“The choir needs preaching to, not be miserable about what they see happening in the world,” he said.

It’s important for citizens to keep speaking out about the things Mr. Trump says and does that are beyond the norm for a president, Mr. Baldwin said.

“We need to do whatever we can to keep our wits about us because this is a very dangerous time for the country,” he said. “We need to keep a light on him every minute of the day, all day long, in every kind of way.”

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One-time GW student Alec Baldwin talked about impersonating the 45th president and the pressure to make money in Hollywood during Lisner event.