NEW YORK • Why was comedian Larry David making jokes about trying to pick up women at a concentration camp? Who thought it would be a good idea for actor Alec Baldwin, of all people, to take satirical potshots at producer Harvey Weinstein?
These were just some of the questions raised last Saturday by Saturday Night Live (SNL), which was hosted by David and featured Miley Cyrus as musical guest.
The cold open featured Baldwin in his recurring role as United States President Donald Trump, visiting Paul Manafort (played by SNL cast member Alex Moffat), his recently indicted former campaign chairman, while he is under house arrest.
After a quick cutaway to First Lady Melania Trump (Cecily Strong), the sketch returned to the characters of Trump and Manafort, who are now standing in a shower.
Baldwin explained he had to make certain Moffat was not wearing a wire. "I would never do that with you," Moffat said.
Baldwin answered: "That's what she said. Like, a whole bunch of shes have said that. Speaking of which, what an idiot that Harvey Weinstein is. He could have gotten away with all of it, if only he'd gotten himself elected president."
It was an awkward juxtaposition at a time when a growing number of Hollywood figures are being confronted with claims of sexual misdeeds.
Baldwin has lately come under scrutiny for his friendship with filmmaker James Toback, who has faced widespread accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Baldwin said he had "no idea" that Toback had "done anything criminal".
David, the creator and star of the HBO cringe-comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm, took the stage by joking to the audience: "You tolerate me. You really, really tolerate me."
He then put that proposition to the test with a discomforting monologue that even his cable TV alter ego would have had trouble getting away with.
"A lot of sexual harassment stuff in the news of late," he said. "And, uh, I couldn't help but notice a very disturbing pattern emerging. Which is that many of the predators - not all, but many of them - are Jews."
After a long grimace, he said: "I don't like it when Jews are in the headlines for notorious reasons. I want Einstein Discovers The Theory Of Relativity. Salk Cures Polio. What I don't want? Weinstein Took It Out."
He continued to think aloud: "You know, I've always, always been obsessed with women, and I've often wondered, if I'd grown up in Poland, when Hitler came to power, and was sent to a concentration camp, would I still be checking out women in the camp? I think I would."
He added: "Of course, the problem is, there are no good opening lines in a concentration camp."
Imagining how such an interaction might unfold, David said: "How's it going? They treating you okay? You know, if we ever get out of here, I'd love to take you out for some latkes. You like latkes? What, what'd I say? Is it me or is it the whole thing? It's 'cause I'm bald, isn't it?"