Saturday Night Live returns this week with NBA star Charles Barkley as the host, and in preparation, he's been training hard with cast member Aida Bryant.
NBC ran several ads for Saturday Night Live that featured Barkley in a familiar dynamic: player and coach. Bryant wears a crew neck sweater and a whistle in the videos as she shouts orders at Barkley all around the SNL set.
"I am not a comedian," Barkley says in one video, with a deadly straight face. "I don't get paid to be a comedian." All the while, Bryant's whistle blares as she mocks his performance and demands more of the six-foot six-inch athlete. "I don't wear wigs for your amusement. I don't do characters. I don't do impressions."
Saturday Night Live made two commercials with the "Coach Bryant" skit, and a third featuring musical guest Migos. The rap group will be performing on the show as well, and they picked on Barkley in another ad.
In addition, on the morning before the show, Barkley gave a tour of Studio 8H in virtual reality. The video features a full 360-degree view of the studio, which users can either drag around to view freely on YouTube, or look at through a VR headset. Barkley wanders around the set, reminiscing about his past appearances on the show.
This is a highly anticipated episode of Saturday Night Live. The show has been away since the first week of February, to allow for the increased coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Since then, plenty of controversial headlines have come and gone, so the satirical sketch comedy show will have a lot of catching up to do.
The show may get a nice ratings bump from President Donald Trump, who lashed out at Alec Baldwin's impersonation of him on Twitter on Friday morning.0comments
"Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impression of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony," Trump tweeted. "Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch. Bring back Darrell Hammond, funnier and a far greater talent!"
Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch. Bring back Darrell Hammond, funnier and a far greater talent!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018
The president was apparently referencing an interview Baldwin recently gave in The Hollywood Reporter, claiming that the impression is "agony" for him to do. Still, it may have the unintended effect of putting the show back on people's minds just before it returns to the air.