It’s a presidential year and that means Saturday Night Live is in the spotlight to spoof American politics.
SNL has had some political sketches that have resonated with the American public. In the show’s early years, Chevy Chase portrayed Gerald Ford as a klutz after a widely circulated video of the president tripping as he descended down the staircase from Air Force One. Dan Aykroyd played Jimmy Carter in a 1977 sketch in a radio question and answer segment where he talked a listener down from a LSD trip.
Phil Hartman portrayed two presidents. First in a 1986 sketch where Reagan in public was goofy and aloof but in private was an evil genius. In 1992 Hartman portrayed President-elect Bill Clinton as he enters a McDonalds to talk with the people.
Dana Carvey had a unique role in 1992. He had to portray BOTH President Bush and third-party candidate Ross Perot.
Probably the only person who benefited from the election of George W. Bush was Will Ferrell. In 2000, he introduced the word “strategery” during the debate sketch and the W. Bush administration actually ran with that.
Then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was portrayed by Tina Fey in 2008, and it likely played a role in shaping Palin as a goof though in reality she didn’t help to shake that label.
Obama has been portrayed as someone who is a cool operator… until you make him angry… and you won’t like him when he is angry…
And a couple of times their real life counterparts have confronted SNL. George Bush did it after leaving the White House. Hillary Clinton encountered the two people to recently portray her: Amy Poehler and was featured in a sketch with Kate McKinnon. While it was not a directly political sketch, Senator Bernie Sanders was in a sketch with comedian Larry David.
And of course, Al Franken was a player and writer on the show. Today he is a US Senator.
And a 2007 sketch of Democratic primary candidates attending the Clintons’ Halloween party featured a future president delivering the show’s signature line.
SNL certainly has had a lot of material to work with during the primary and is expected to have a lot to work with in the general election. The debate spoof features Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and has tapped Alec Baldwin to portray Donald Trump.