This week’s Saturday Night Live cold open, for once, had nothing to do with the Trump administration — and Alec Baldwin was nowhere in sight. Instead, series regular Kenan Thompson sat across from Leslie Jones’s Gayle King as R. Kelly, recreating his explosive interview with the CBS anchor.
“Thank you for having me, and please just call me victim,” Thompson said, referencing the interview where the R&B star denied abusing underage girls. Later, Jones asks him why he thinks he’s the victim and to identify some of the things that he thinks are being unfairly said about him.
“That I have a harem of young girls and I started a — what’s the word? It starts with a ‘Q,’” he says.
“You mean cult?” Jones’ King clarifies.
“Yeah, that’s it,” he agrees.
“Right, and why do you think people are saying that about you?” she asks.
“Probably because it looks like I have a harem of young girls and because I started a cult.”
When asked why he would think to do an interview, Thompson as Kelly quipped, “My lawyer was telling me no but my ego, my ego was telling me yes,” in a reference to his 1990s song “Bump N Grind”.
Jones summoned King’s calm demeanor from the news interview as Kelly raged, repeating “Robert” over and over again through the interview. When Gayle King spoke to the New York Times about Kelly’s violent and erratic behavior later, she explained she kept calm and stared straight ahead out of self-preservation.
“The problem is when you get that out of control — the way he was hitting his fist and the way that he was cursing, the intensity of his voice — sometimes you can’t control yourself,” she said. “I just didn’t want to get hit accidentally.”
The CBS exclusive interview with the R&B star came days after Kelly was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of minors, the Chicago-Sun Times reported, and was bailed out of jail shortly after. The same day SNL mocked his eyebrow-raising interview, Kelly was bailed out — for a second time in recent days — after he failed to pay child support.
Still playing the victim, when Jones asked Thompson’s Kelly about said child support, he sang again, “Damn that’s a good question. I wasn’t expecting that. Now I gotta switch directions and get some sympathy back.”
Just like the original interview, the cold open got out of hand as Thompson got up and ranted as a pitch-perfect Kelly, glaring straight into the camera as a calm Jones looked on, “Guys, think for a minute. Use your brains! Why would I do these things. For 30 years, I gave y’all ‘Trapped in the Closet,’ ‘Feelin on Yo Booty,’ ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,’ and so many other clues.”
He’s got a point.