Baldwin sets 'SNL' record, McCarthy returns as Spicer

Alec Baldwin hosted "Saturday Night Live" for a record 17th time this weekend to remind viewers he's more than just a President Donald Trump impersonator. Although the actor was sans wispy blonde wig and orange-tinted makeup for the majority of the episode, the show did not hold back on hitting Trump, who they referred to in one sketch as a "TV president."

The show skipped its usual Baldwin-as-Trump cold open to allow the host to deliver his monologue clean-faced. Instead, Melissa McCarthy returned for an encore performance to open the show as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer after her much-lauded surprise cameo last week.

"I would just like to announce I am calm now," McCarthy said before launching into a feat of physical comedy that matched her first appearance lampooning Spicer.

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"I've been told to cut back on the gum," McCarthy said in a nod to the actual Spicer's response to the "Ghostbusters" star's portrayal of him.

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McCarthy went on to stuff an enormous stick of gum into her mouth, attack a reporter with a leaf blower, and lift her leg high into the air to show off a pair of Ivanka Trump-brand heels during an infomercial to shill for the first daughter after Nordstrom declined to pick up her Fall line.

Kate McKinnon also appeared in the sketch in her debut portrayal of an elf-like version of new Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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Spicer wasn't the only member of the administration to be mocked. McKinnon appeared as Kellyanne Conway in a digital short about the Trump adviser stalking CNN anchor Jake Tapper in a desperate attempt to be on TV.

"I just want to be part of the news, Jake," she yells, later threatening him with a knife.

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McKinnon's Conway has transformed since the election from a put-upon workaholic to a spotlight obsessed maniac. The end of the pre-taped sketch sees Conway fall out a window and crash to the sidewalk, only to get up and pop broken limbs back into place, announcing: "I'm OK, but I only have three lives left."

Baldwin showed up as Trump more than halfway into the show in a sketch that saw Trump appearing as a plaintiff on "The People's Court" against the three 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges who ruled against him this week.

"You understand this is a TV court," Cecily Strong as Judge Marilyn Milian asks Trump in the sketch.

"That's OK, I'm a TV president," Baldwin as Trump responds after accusing the federal judges of being mean to him. He goes on to bring out a bare-chested Vladimir Putin as a character witness.

"You're doing too much! I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me," the exasperated judge yells at Trump at one point, earning an applause break from the live studio audience.

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Trump himself has not yet tweeted about the episode or Baldwin as he has in the past, calling the show unwatchable. Viewers disagree. The show's ratings this season have been its best in more than 20 years, seeing a 22-percent increase in total viewers this season over last, according to TVLine.

It is likely no coincidence that Baldwin played such a big part in the show this season, missing only three episodes. Baldwin's portrayal of the president has become an integral part of the show, which has stopped attempting to hide its animosity toward Trump, who it once invited on as host.

Former "SNL" cast member Chevy Chase says he thinks the show and its creator, Lorne Michaels, know exactly what they're doing with Trump. They are trying to "make him look like an ass because he is one, for God sake," Chase told The Hollywood Reporter.

Chase admitted to portraying Gerald Ford as a clumsy fool during his time on the show's cast in an attempt to help get rival Jimmy Carter elected.

(Disclosure: NBCUniversal is parent of NBC and CNBC.)

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