SNL Leads Political Satire

Will Farrell as George W. Bush
Will Ferrell as George W. Bush.

By Rosie Alger
Elm Staff Writer

There is no denying that Saturday Night Live has a leftward slant when it comes to political coverage. Despite this, I believe that this season of SNL has featured a more politically based humor and satire than has been seen in a long time. SNL has upped its game as comedic watch dog for President Trump’s administration, and because of this highly charged political climate, the jokes are writing themselves.
A big part of the president’s job is to endure criticism across the nation, and the writers at SNL are veterans of putting the commander in chief in the spotlight.
Looking back at George W. Bush’s presidency, there were plenty of sketches that make fun of him, primarily jabs at his intelligence and many language and communication errors. In 2000, SNL featured a sketch parodying the presidential debate between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The main joke of the sketch was that Al Gore, played by Darrell Hammond, spoke very slowly while explaining topics, and Bush, played by Will Farrell, didn’t understand any of the questions. At one point, they brought up a real quote from Bush, that in classic Bush fashion, didn’t make much sense.
He said, “More often than not, movies give us exquisite sex and wholesome violence, that underscores our values. Every two child did. I will.” When the moderator asked Farrell what he meant by that quote, he responded, “Pass.” The comedy was definitely poking fun, but there wasn’t the same direct and pointed criticism that you see with the show’s jabs at Trump.
SNL is not just political satire. At its heart, it is a sketch comedy show that draws from current events and popular culture. This includes, but is not limited to, politics.
Because of this, SNL goes through periods of political relevance, depending on what the nation is paying the most attention to. While every president of the last few decades has been ridiculed by SNL at some point, there is no denying that Trump has ushered in a new era of presidential slamming for the show.
From jokes about his orange skin to representing his Chief Strategist Steve Bannon as the Grim Reaper, the Trump jokes and sketches run the gambit between lighthearted and silly, and hard-hitting with layers of meaning.

Alec Baldwin as Trump with Death nearby
Alec Baldwin gained much attention for his impression of President Trump.

With a president who has talked about sexually assaulting and harassing women, wants to ban Muslims from the country, is trying to get Mexico to pay for a wall along our border, and has appointed a cabinet full of neo-Nazis who go by the term alt-righters, it seems only fair that SNL has been taking their shot with deadly comedic aim. Trumpcontinues to hand them material on a silver platter, and the dangerous nature of his administration warrants a comedic backlash.
All presidents get made fun of. Not all presidents, however, throw a fit every time they are impersonated. Trump, the self- made king of Twitter, has continued to launch virtual tantrums every time someone mentions his name in a negative light. After the episode hosted by Emma Stone, Trump Tweeted insults at SNL and Alec Baldwin, who impersonates him on the show.
He said, “Just tried watching Saturday Night Live – unwatchable! Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse. Sad.”
SNL isn’t the only late night show on a Trump streak, either. Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and Trevor Noah are all taking their swings at this administration. As much as I love these programs, their current content almost can’t be accredited to the creative minds of their writers. If Trump and his administration are going to continue to say and do such ridiculous, offensive, and short-sighted actions in the public eye, they better expect to get some backlash from late night. They might even get a thank you note from SNL for gifting the show with such easy material and boosting its ratings.

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