For the few months in which he worked at the White House, Steve Bannon was portrayed on Saturday Night Live in a way that probably would have suited him just fine, as a cloaked figure in a grim reaper mask looming in the Oval Office. (Cast member Mikey Day was under that cloak, and tweeted a farewell to the mask after Bannon was fired last August.)
But now that Bannon isn’t just out of the White House but deeply on the outs with the people who made him famous, Saturday Night Live’s writers aren’t likely to bring him back into the action any time soon. So they gave him a farewell honor, of sorts, by finally removing the grim reaper mask to reveal . . . Bill Murray??
Outfitted in a “wrinkled barn jacket,” some lovingly applied facial splotches, and a truly luxurious wig, Murray popped up near the end of a Morning Joe sketch, sitting next to Michael Wolff (Fred Armisen in an eerily dead-on impression) to refute some of the claims made in Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury. “No one gets the Bannon fired,” Murray’s Bannon claimed. “I never said Don Jr. was treasonous.”
“Yes you did,” Armisen’s Wolff responded.
“Well I certainly never said he cracked like an egg on TV.”
“Yes you did, that sounds exactly like you.”
“OK that does sound like me,” Murray’s Bannon concluded. “Thank you, good reporting.”
Bannon went on to detail all of his post-Breitbart plans ,including a Crackle series called (Cucks in Cars Getting Coffee, a menswear line called Frumpers, and a skincare line called Blotch. He also claimed to be hard at work finding the next Trump-like unlikely political leader. “Logan Paul. Martin Shkreli. Jared the Subway guy. It’s time for America to slide down the Bannonster.” On that last line, Murray—a Saturday Night Live veteran famous for his deadpan—couldn’t resist cracking up.
At this point nearly all of the most famous impressions of Trump administration members belong to superstars who aren’t in the regular S.N.L. cast— Alec Baldwin set the template as Trump (an impression no one thought would last beyond the election), then Melissa McCarthy ushered in the show’s period of hyper-relevance as Sean Spicer, the Emmy-winning impression that likely inadvertently sparked Spicer’s pop culture comeback. It seems likely that Murray only took the Bannon job, though, knowing that it would be a one-time thing. And it was a far more political appearance for Murray than the last time he returned to 30 Rock, showing up in October 2016 to celebrate the World Series victory of his beloved Chicago Cubs. But a lot has changed since the fall of 2016, after all. And when there’s a former White House employee best captured by a grim reaper mask, who better to send him off in splotchy style than Murray?