“Saturday Night Live” once made a name for itself for its spot-on political satire, but in recent years the late-night comedy show has been criticized for its cartoonish caricatures of politicians. However, the show may have just received the jolt of energy it needed, thanks to Alec Baldwin.

The show launched its 42nd season on Saturday night and instantly impressed many critics with its opening bit, in which Baldwin impersonated GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump during a debate with a coughing, wobbling Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon).

“Good evening, America,” Baldwin’s Trump said as he took the stage. “I am going to be so good tonight. I am going to be so calm and so presidential that all of you watching are going to cream your jeans.”

Ridiculously crude lines like those were sprinkled throughout the sketch, but much of it was written to reflect the actual first presidential debate. Baldwin’s Trump sniffled, accused McKinnon’s Clinton of breaking his microphone, and interrupted her by calmly declaring “wrong” every time she made an assertion.

“I have the best judgment, and the best temperament,” he declared at one point in the sketch.

The Atlantic explains why this new iteration of Trump was so successful:

It felt like the first time the show was going after the candidate’s controversial policies and inflammatory rhetoric. But just as powerful was how little the writers needed to stray from his actual words in order to make a point. “We should be talking about the important issues, like Rosie O’Donnell and how she’s a fat loser,” Baldwin’s Trump yelled when asked about Alicia Machado; “And everyone agrees with me, and I just wanted to bring that up at a presidential debate of my own volition. Good idea. I did it.” It might have seemed ridiculous if it wasn’t almost exactly how it played out in real life.

The sketch poked fun at Clinton’s infamous pantsuit and her attempts to be relatable, and McKinnon got the chance to replicate Clinton’s famous debate-night shimmy, but it was largely focused on skewering Trump. For example, Baldwin’s Trump dived into this speech about race:

The thing about the blacks is that they’re killing each other. All the blacks live on one street in Chicago, all on one street! I just read that this morning — it’s called “Hell Street!” And they’re on Hell Street and they’re all just killing each other, just like I am killing this debate.

The real Trump, meanwhile, has stuck by his assertion that he won last week’s debate:

And the Clinton campaign has spent the last several days focusing on Trump’s tax returns:

SNL now seems unafraid to use Trump’s own ideas and words to paint him as a sneering racist, rather than a harmless blowhard,” The Atlantic wrote. “There was certainly new urgency on display last Saturday—Baldwin’s performance invited viewers to not just ‘laugh at the orange man,’ but also to fear him.”

Watch the entire sketch below:

—Posted by Emma Niles

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