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Steve Martin channels a ranting Roger Stone for Saturday Night Live's cold open

Alex Moffat, Steve Martin
Screenshot: Saturday Night Live

What with lifelong dirty tricks expert, Donald Trump advisor and longtime associate, and aging cosplayer Roger Stone getting scooped up in a pre-dawn FBI raid at his home on Friday, the prospect of someone playing the flamboyantly evil Stone on Saturday Night Live’s cold open no doubt sent the show’s writers and casting people scurrying for just the right candidate. Finding a hilarious actor capable of embodying a blustery, bigoted, emphatically cuckoo old coot and political ratfucker isn’t up just anyone’s alley, after all. But, in keeping with SNL’s increasingly ringer-heavy high-profile casting choices over the past few years, the show only had to go as far as Lorne Michaels’ Rolodex, as Michaels and SNL pal and comedy god Steve Martin donned the chunky round glasses, shock-white wig (over his slightly less dramatic snowy locks), and pugnaciously deceitful speaking style on the show’s mockup of Fox News’ propaganda outlet Tucker Carlson Tonight.

After first interviewing other Fox racism foghorn Jeanine Pirro (Cecily Strong) about gang MS-13 (and their terrifying gang holiday, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado), and Kate McKinnon (going for male Trump cabinet impersonation bingo) as a cluelessly out-of-touch Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Alex Moffat’s Carlson threw to the out-on-bail Stone. After a brief pause puzzling through the impressive makeup department job done of Martin, the audience roared, and kept on roaring through Martin’s suitably bananas impersonation of the guy who is reported to have been the Trump campaigns conduit to Russia through Wikileaks.

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Claiming to be having the “time of his life—Go Nixon!,” the former Richard Nixon political saboteur alternately bragged and lied about the seven felony counts (including lying to Congress) against him. Picking up Carlson’s softball about how outrageous it was for the FBI to treat him like a common criminal allegedly guilty of high treason among other things, Martin’s Stone raged in performative fury, “Exactly! The whole experience was so harrowing that afterwards I could only manage one radio interview. And a speech from the steps of the courthouse. And two appearances on television.” Concluding by saying “Pardon me?” to Carlson’s signoff, Martin’s Stone clarified that he’d heard Carlson just fine—it was more of a preemptive request to pal Donald Trump.

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.