Swing and a Miss

How SNL tried—and failed—to cover the Baltimore protests.

Look, we have sympathy for satirists in the wake of the Baltimore protests. It’s tough to satirize serious events in a way that manages to be both funny and compassionate and insightful.

But man did SNL whiff on their attempt at making light of Baltimore’s struggles.

They took on, naturally, the unprecedented and eerie game at Camden Yards in front of an empty stadium.

A few of the jokes landed: The lone hot dog vendor, sadly peddling his hot dogs to nobody, was cute. The idea of having the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Flea” give a post-game concert— “So after the concert, Flea”—was perhaps in poor taste, but at least made us chuckle.

Beyond that, um…

It started with the obvious fact that the writers of the skit had never attended an Orioles game, or even done the most rudimentary of research. Frank Robinson (played by Kenan Thompson in the skit) doesn’t do play-by-play for the Orioles. Also, Amber Theoharis (played by Scarlett Johansson) hasn’t been a reporter for MASN since 2012.

Then there were a series of not-so-funny and mean-spirited puns:

“Baltimore has been on fire this week!”
“Baltimore took an absolute beating from the boys in blue.”
“Kingsford: Throw a brick; start a fire.”

So funny we forgot to laugh?

But the worst offense, on every level, had to be their bizarre Manny Machado joke.

“He’s still on the mend from knee surgery, but we saw him at batting practice and that knee grows stronger every day,” Taran Killam’s Jim Palmer said.

It was supposed to be a play on the word “negro”—which isn’t even a little bit funny—but it also ignores the very obvious fact that Manny Machado isn’t black (he’s Dominican-American). A collective head-scratch from all of Baltimore on that one.

To see how this sort of satire can be done in an intelligent and thoughtful way, see the commentary by Jon Stewart.

What do you guys think? Did SNL strike out on this one?