For the second time inside of a year, a government shutdown looms—and, as a result, for the second time in a year, Donald Trump’s trip to the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, a vestige of his pre-presidency “previous life” when he had “so many things going” for him and things were easier, has been threatened. Donald Trump might not go home for Christmas.
If that’s the case, Melania Trump—as interpreted once again by Laura Benanti on the most recent episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert—will be thrilled. In a new sketch, which aired during Thursday night’s Late Show, Benanti sang and danced her way through a scathing holiday-themed satire of the first lady, unable to restrain her delight at the prospect of a Christmas spent alone. (Home Alone reference, unfortunately, lost.)
Let’s set the scene. Christmas is approaching, which means it’s time for a festive public address. Seemingly, the president and first lady should be together for this endeavor; however, as is his way, Trump has been held up. So Melania takes it upon herself to start a tour of the White House’s Christmas decorations—those blood trees—as well as something called the “White House Inclusivity Corner,” which includes a basketball embellished with a yarmulke, a Hulk doll holding a sign that says “Hinduism,” and a framed portrait of Tom Cruise, distracting from her husband’s absence. (The Late Show, as Vulture wrote recently, “has been one of the few shows willing to hold Melania accountable for staying with the president.” Benanti’s Melania puts it more pithily: “I could grab my bag and walk out that door but I really don’t want to be poor,” she sings amid a sea of singing, dancing secret-service men and women, comparing herself to a refugee. It’s pretty spot-on, except Benanti probably says “cool” more than the actual first lady.) There’s a Krampus, a bleak Slovenian interpretation of A Charlie Brown Christmas (“grief is good; the feeling proves you are not yet dead,” an Eastern European stand-in for Lucy says), and a couple dance numbers.
Then, Trump dials in on the Oval Office’s special red line to tell Melania he won’t be home for Christmas. (Eerily prescient, considering the new reports Trump may not actually be going home for the holidays in case of a “very long” government shutdown. Apparently, even Trump gets that the optics of that would be very, very bad.) “The mere thought of being without my husband on Christmas Eve makes me so emotional. It just makes me want to scream ‘Hallelujah,’” Benanti’s Melania sings, suddenly changing into a sequined red dress to perform another song—“I’ll be home for Christmas without you-know-who,” she goes on, which is appropriate because we also consider him unnamable like Voldemort.
“Merry Christmas, bitches,” she says by way of farewell, “both things my husband make okay to say again.”