“We’re planning sort of a great big goodbye to her that I’m really, really excited about,” Laura Benanti told me last month when I asked her if she was finally finished playing First Lady Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “It’s going to be pretty, pretty spectacular.”
On Monday night, with about 36 hours to go until Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, she delivered on that promise.
What started as a standard farewell message about how “all good things must come to an end”—and “also this,” she added—Benanti’s Melania put her Tony Award-winning skills to work in an elaborate short film about moving back to New York for good after four long years of suffering in D.C.
“It’s so good to be in NYC, the Be-Bestest city on earth. The huge apple. The city that never sleeps with a porn star and then lies to you about it,” she said, walking through Times Square. “Being here makes me feel… which is something I don’t normally do.”
With that, she burst into a beautiful parody of Belle’s opening song from Beauty and the Beast, but instead of telling her “Bonjour!” the New Yorkers around her shouted, “Fuck you!” and “You suck!” and “Fuck off!” and “Wear a mask!”
“Such colorful characters with their local expressions!” she marveled, before singing, “There goes my driver, nice to see you… Jeffrey? New York is too good to be true. No one puts me in a rage, asking ‘bout kids in a cage. I don’t really care about that, do you?”
And then: “Starting to wonder if New York dislikes me? What is this word ‘complicity?’ That riot on the Mall, hurt Melania most of all. No one on earth is bullied more than me!”
“What was I supposed to do? It was just one lousy coup,” Melania sang later. “What do you want from me? Another fucking Christmas tree?” Then when she crooned, “You can change your mind and say you love me if you want to,” the crowd of masked New Yorkers replied, “We hate you like you hate Ivanka!”
“Then goodbye forever,” she concluded dramatically. “Insincerely, Melania Trump!”
It was a performance for the ages, as spectacularly brilliant as the first lady was unconscionably complicit.
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