Saturday Night Live has spent many seasons commenting on pop culture, which has resulted in some shocking moments. But its best seasons have skits typically focused on politics. There have been many seasons where comedians impersonated a politician to comment on what is going on. Many of them are funny, but even more impressively is when the show was able to be hilarious and nail its portrayal of politics in the US.
Some of these political sketches simply recreated debates, interviews, and speeches with a funny spin. Others portrayed the concerns of voters, political commentators, and shocking moments no one could have predicted. So what are the best skits from the show?
Here are 15 times Saturday Night Live perfectly nailed politics in America.
1. Undecided voters
Saturday Night Live has slammed Democrats and Republicans over the years, but it also hasn’t left out the undecided voters. During the 2012 presidential election, the show made a fake ad showing the hard hitting questions that undecided voters apparently needed to know to make their decision. The sad thing is, most of them can be answered through simple research.
This isn’t the only time the show addressed undecided voters. They did it again in the 2016 presidential election through undecided voter Cathy Anne who just isn’t inspired by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump because, as she says, “they don’t know how to have a good time.” This Weekend Update, however, doesn’t make the list, because Cecily Strong is purposely not understandable for a good portion of the joke.
Still, the meaning behind both the ad and the Weekend Update are essentially the same.
2. Ross Perot takes James Stockdale for a joyride
Admiral James Stockdale was Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1992 presidential election. A sign, however, that things weren’t going well came when Stockdale opened the vice presidential debate by saying, “Who am I? Why am I here?”
This was later used as part of the sketch on SNL.
3. George W. Bush and Al Gore’s debate
The sketch show had perfect material with the presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Gore is not exactly the most charming candidate, but Bush also didn’t come across as very bright in their debate.
Needless to say, the two make very interesting characters in this sketch.
4. Jimmy Carter on inflation
Sometimes politicians come up with disastrous plans to address the economy in the country. The comedy show decided to point this out by having Dan Aykroyd portray Jimmy Carter and tell the country to burn their money to address inflation.
He sets an example with his own daughter, and it’s pretty outrageous.
5. Barack Obama promotes Healthcare.gov
Barack Obama came into the office when social media started taking off, so he definitely tried to use that to his advantage.
This skit pokes fun at some of the crazy things the president is advised to do in order to encourage citizens to sign up for healthcare.
6. President Bill Clinton at McDonald’s
President Bill Clinton was definitely charismatic with his saxophone playing and sense of humor. So Saturday Night Live decided to make a sketch of the charming politician talking everyone out of their happy meals at McDonald’s.
For him, it’s like stealing candy from a baby.
7. FOX & Friends: Speaker Of The House cold open
Fox & Friends often comes across as a sketch itself, but SNL tackled it along with multiple news topics. This cold open addressed the fact that the Speaker of the House position almost went to Jason Chaffetz, as well as several Planned Parenthood conspiracy theories and more.
8. Hillary Clinton bar talk
Kate McKinnon spent some time portraying Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. So it was pretty exciting for fans to see her to do her impersonation with Clinton herself.
McKinnon talks sadly to a bartender as the politician, but the skit doesn’t let Clinton off easy. It points out how she often takes hard stances pretty late.
9. George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole talk Dole’s loss
Norm McDonald had a good run impersonating Bob Dole, but that ended once Bill Clinton won the election. Close to the end, he did a skit talking about why Dole was losing so badly.
George H.W. Bush breaks it down — in a very silly way — that it’s about likability, and Dole just didn’t have it.
10. Vladimir Putin addresses America
Russia has been a huge discussion topic throughout Donald Trump’s presidency because of his alleged ties to Vladimir Putin.
The comedy show decided to give “Putin” (portrayed by Beck Bennett) his own cold open to address the American people and assure them that everything is just fine.
11. How a bill does not become a law
Obama signed an executive amnesty order, so the show decided to respond to it. They did so by doing a parody of “I’m Just a Bill” — except this time the bill doesn’t quite make it. Instead, it gets replaced by an executive order because of the president.
12. Michael Bloomberg and Chris Christie on Hurricane Sandy
The show tackled the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy by spoofing Michael Bloomberg (played by Fred Armisen) and Chris Christie (Bobby Moynihan) holding a press conference on the storm.
Part of the humor in the sketch is that both politicians have funny interpreters beside them. But it still nails how both keep their distance from President Obama, despite his response to the disaster.
13. Ronald Reagan is a mastermind
The sketch shows Ronald Reagan playing dumb with reporters, but being a mastermind behind closed doors. He even has secret maps that he loves more than posing with Girl Scouts.
Phil Hartman does a great job, barking at people and moving through the sketch.
14. Racists for Donald Trump ad
Trump’s campaign and presidency has been full of coded language about what his platform stands for, including the slogan, “Make America Great Again.” But discriminatory voters have been a big part of his support.
This sketch definitely nails that on the head in a clever way.
15. Sarah Palin vs. Hillary Clinton
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are a great comedy duo, and their portrayal of Clinton and Sarah Palin helped cement that. The sketch showed the two female politicians address the nation on sexism and pointing out their differences.
Palin was very much the butt of the joke, due to crazy things she said while serving as John McCain’s running mate.
Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.