In The Hero With a Thousand Faces, comparative-mythology scholar Joseph Campbell argues that certain common archetypes recur in myths and religions across cultures and eras. Many have a Golden Rule, most have a flood myth, and all have a belief that when you die and go to hell, the first thing you see is Alec Baldwin holding a sign that says “YOU’RE WELCOME!!!” It’s exactly what he did at the very end of last night’s Saturday Night Live, which aired after Baldwin’s, uh, comedic muse Donald Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. As host Dave Chappelle threw out his thank yous and good nights, and Maya Rudolph held up a sign wishing her daughter Lucy a happy birthday, Baldwin flashed a sign that said, “YOU’RE WELCOME!!!” as if to say “Oh no, no need to thank me. I’m well aware that my Trump schtick was satire of such a high order that I may have singlehandedly brought down the president.”
After the episode, Baldwin posted a photo to Twitter of him holding the sign earlier in the show while still in character, casting doubt over who, exactly, was saying “YOU’RE WELCOME!!!” Was it Baldwin? Was it Trump? Unclear.
Whether it was intended as a message from Baldwin or Baldwin in character as Trump, the act of offering up an unprompted “You’re welcome” is such a blatantly recognizable act of pride, hubris, and misplaced false modesty that Disney wrote a whole song about it, because even children get the joke. If the “Hallelujah” piano opened this dark chapter of SNL in the Trump era, hopefully this was the coda.
This post has been updated for clarity.