Saturday Night Live held nothing back in ridiculing the increasingly hard-line administration of President Donald Trump – first comparing the Republican president to Hitler, goaded by war-mongering adviser Steve Bannon as the Grim Reaper, before introducing Melissa McCarthy in the role of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

The cold open began with Alec Baldwin's Trump excited at the prospect of being left unsupervised by daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, amid reports that the couple, both senior advisers, helped to quash an oppressive executive order on LGBT rights.

In a jab at the leader's poor temperament, the sketch sees Trump eagerly call in the "healthy and rested" Bannon – portrayed as the hooded figure of death – to help him "freak out on somebody".

The duo proceed to make a series of incendiary calls to world leaders, with Trump unaware that Bannon, acting as a puppeteer, is attempting to start World War Three.

The first call to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Beck Bennett) ends on sour terms, parodying a recent real-life exchange between the pair, which reportedly ended after 20 minutes.

The conversation deteriorates when Trump learns of a refugee agreement made under Barack Obama's tenure.

"President Obama said America would accept 1,200 refugees," says Turnbull, thanking Trump. "Your country's compassion will not be forgotten."

"No, no refugees," Trump shouts. "America first, Australia sucks, your reef is failing, prepare to go to war," before slamming the phone down.

Sensing he has failed to act in a presidential manner (unlike the real Trump, of course, who decried the deal as "dumb" on Twitter) Baldwin's character turns to Bannon who reassures him everything went to plan.

Confidence renewed, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (Alex Moffat) is the next to receive a call. But history repeats itself as Trump, frustrated at Nieto's refusal to pay for his proposed wall between the two nations, shouts "prepare to go to war".

Next, in one of the most controversial moments of the cold open series to date, SNL draw comparisons to Hitler when Trump contacts German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Kate McKinnon).

When Merkel answers in the forlorn hope that it is "mien sweet" Barack, Trump quickly sets her straight.

"I want to be serious for a second," he says. "Last week it was Holocaust Remembrance Day. As you know, six million people… were at my inauguration. There were so many people at my inauguration.

"The media refuses to cover it, so unfair," he adds, touching upon the 'alternative fact' controversy.

He then inadvertently alludes to Mien Kampf, Hitler's manifesto that preceded his founding of the Nazi party: "One day I'm going to write a memoir about this struggle and call it My Struggle. What would that be in German?"

When Merkel corrected how Trump pronounced her first name, he lost it.

"Prepare to go to war," he says, hanging up.

Morale low, a similarly disastrous call to Zimbabwe in the hopes of repairing egos only worsens matters, after Robert Mugabe (Kenan Thompson) tells Trump he will never match him as a dictator.

"That was hilarious," Bannon states, before asking for the Oval Office desk back from Trump.

"Yes, of course, Mr President," Trump replies, heading to a nearby child-sized desk.

Trump has yet to respond to the latest sketch, but should he do so, it would not be the first time the seemly oversensitive president-elect has voiced his displeasure at comedians exorcising their constitutionally protected right to free speech.

Following SNL's first post-election skit, Trump labelled the programme "totally one-sided", "biased" and containing "nothing funny at all".

But, apparently no longer content with undermining Trump alone, the long-running show could also come under fire from press secretary Spicer, after an additional sketch featured McCarthy impersonating his manic, aggressive post-inauguration conference.

Appearing panicked and popping pills, McCarthy's Spicer screams: "Before we begin, I know that myself and the press have gotten off to a rocky start.

"All right, all right, all right, all right. In a sense, when I say 'rocky start,' I mean it in the sense of Rocky the movie. Because I came out here to punch you! In the face! And also I don't talk so good. So I'd like to begin today by apologising on behalf of you, to me. For how you treated me in the last two weeks. And that apology is not accepted."

The undeterred press, including journalists from the oft Trump-berated New York Times, persist to ask about Trump's travel ban against seven Muslim countries.

Struggling, Spicer resorts to explaining the president's fight against radical "moose-lambs" with stuffed animals and squirting a reporter with a water gun.

CNN's Jim Acosta, who infamously had his question rejected by Trump in his first press conference is also shown caged, as if a terrorist in Guantanamo, fearing for his life and freedom, shouting, "We're not fake news."

As with all the best comedy, SNL went further than before, but it was justified, as it reflected truths those featured will never entertain.