Home / Fall 2015 / Politicians trying to play both sides of ‘SNL’ double-edged comedy sword

Politicians trying to play both sides of ‘SNL’ double-edged comedy sword

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hosted on "Saturday Night Live" on Nov. 7. (Photo Courtesy: Dana Edelson/NBC.com)

Written by Tresia Bowles, Staff Writer

From Reagan and Clinton, to Bush and Obama, Saturday Night Live has never been shy about impersonating our nation’s political leaders. These sketches have been going on for decades and they certainly won’t be slowing down any time soon due to the fact that the audience responds so well to them.

These sketches have proven to have been the most memorable for SNL viewers, for example, Will Ferrell’s impersonation of George Bush and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. The draw is so attractive that politicians such as Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump have all agreed to make appearances on the show. However, the skits raise a few questions. Are these sketches creating more damage or helping the portrayal of political candidates? Are the skits being taken seriously? Is SNL trying to show that they are real people? Is it all just fun and games? Or are people really seeing the candidates as the way they are portrayed on this show?

I will say that some of the impressions are spot on, especially Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin. On the episode where she recreated Sarah Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, the aspect that made this spoof so hilarious was how close she got to replicating Sarah Palin’s demeanor, antics, and speech.

Granted these skits are exaggerated, they are based on people’s real perceptions of different politicians.

For example, many truly believed Sarah Palin was less than intelligent. The skit may have added more fuel to the fire, and in return, may have contributed to Sarah Palin not becoming Vice President.

Other skits have been a little more far-fetched such as Kate McKinnon skit as Hilary Clinton. Hilary certainly does not have the personality of a robot such as how she is portrayed. They literally have Kate to pretend as if Hilary’s entire life is conducted around how presidential she must be 100 percent of the time. The only thing she can wear is suits, even when she’s working out and so on. And Bill Clinton would not interrupt her video message by playing the saxophone as he did on Arsenio Hall many years ago. This sketch can be seen as more of a joke than the one on Sarah Palin. Hilary is still in the 2016 running for candidacy and has a good chance.

SNL recently did a sketch on the 2015 Democratic debate and Larry David’s portrayal of Bernie Sanders was extremely funny. The way Sanders communicates in debates often makes people not take him seriously, so David made fun of the fact that he often sounds a bit like a bitter old grandpa and used that for the basis of the script. If people weren’t taking Sanders seriously already, they certainly may lose their motivation from watching this skit. Even through this, Bernie Sanders numbers are still on the rise.

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