These days Alec Baldwin may be best known for his President Trump impression on “Saturday Night Live,” but the award-winning veteran actor has had a storied career spanning more than three decades.
On Sunday night, SpikeTV took time to both honor and roast the veteran actor in a two-hour special titled “One Night Only: Alec Baldwin.” Taped in front of a live audience at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, the third installment of the Spike’s “One Night Only” (previously honoring Eddie Murphy and Don Rickles) brought together some of the people who know Baldwin best: his family, fellow “30 Rock” actors Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer, Julianne Moore and Jane Krakowski, as well as Robert De Niro, Horatio Sanz, and surprise guest president Bill Clinton.
Clinton talked about his long-standing friendship with Baldwin, how the actor ran for office in elementary school, and used that anecdote as an opportunity to make a dig at Trump.
“Now that we know it works the other way around, you should run again. You’ll probably win this time,” Clinton said.
Tiny Fey and Lorne Michaels were notably absent. Baldwin joked at one point, “You may have noticed Lorne Michaels couldn’t be here. Unfortunately, he was trapped under a pile of money he made off of all of our backs.” Stephen Baldwin, who has differing political views than his brother, did not attend.
Kevin Kay, Spike TV president, started things off with a little introduction and while encouraging the audience to cheer and applaud as much as they’d like, told everyone, “Behave yourselves. One thing I can guarantee is the president will be watching.”
De Niro told Baldwin that he thinks his Trump impression is “great comedy and good for the country.” Sanz added that “the world thanks you for the great Trump impression. The audience showed approval for both lines with applause.
Otherwise, the evening was filled with heartfelt moments and hilarious jabs.
Morgan joked, “Alec and I are really like brothers. We have so much in common. I used to drink, he used to drink. I used to smoke weed, he used to do drugs. I had a horrible car accident that almost ended my career, he had his MSNBC talk show.” While Morgan struggled to land a few of his jokes, he ultimately went with sincerity.
“To me, in my book, you’re one of the the greatest five actors of all time, and I mean that. And I know your prayers went up for me and the blessings came down. I’m glad I’m here talking to you now. I love you,” he professed.
Most of the actor tributes were peppered with video highlights from Baldwin’s career separated into an “SNL” montage (Baldwin has hosted a record 17 times), his dramatic film roles, impressions and a mash-up of all the leading ladies with whom he’s starred.
His real-life leading lady, Hilaria Baldwin, went for their age difference in her jokes (he is 59; she is 33). “He is a wonderful grandfather to our children,” she said, and later, “The thing about Alec is he’s young at heart. He spends too much time on his hair and fights on Twitter.” Baldwin simultaneously laughed and cringed from his seat.
Brothers Daniel and Billy Baldwin gave a snapshot of what it was like “growing up Baldwin,” and how rambunctious the household could be. Billy Baldwin seemed to have received the brunt of it. In one story in particular, a young Daniel and Alec Baldwin rolled him up in a rug, stuffed a sock in his mouth and left him in the bathtub with the water trickling down his face for hours, to which Daniel said, “Alec actually invented waterboarding.”
“I wouldn’t trade one minute of growing up with Alec and the bond we have,” said Daniel Baldwin. Billy Baldwin echoed how proud he is of his brother and that their father, who passed away in 1983, “is looking down and very proud.”
Some other highlights included a short skit with Kate McKinnon and Baldwin filmed for the event where she plays a New York “paparazza” and he a very cranky version of himself; Krakowski’s performance of an original number with a string octet from the New York Philharmonic called “I Don’t Really Know You That Well”; De Niro launching into a string of expletives as part of his Alec Baldwin impression; and the honorees’ daughters, Carmen and Ireland, taking the stage.
But, in the end, Alec had the last words.
“I’m glad all of you are here with me tonight. Like I assured the producers, I knew all of you wouldn’t be busy. It couldn’t have been easy for you to get here coming all the way from obscurity.”
After a few shocked reactions from his closing monologue, Baldwin said, “I didn’t write this s—. Are you kidding me?”
“One Night Only: Alec Baldwin” airs July 9 at 9/8c on Spike.