[Nov. 2016 Arts] Mixed reactions to SNL skits reflect election tension

By Cate Casparius ’19 & Jack Shapiro ’19


Saturday Night Live” is a television sketch comedy that satirizes many topics relating to American society, including the 2016 presidential election.

“Ever since the show debuted in the fall of 1975, it’s earned fans’ trust in part by speaking truth to power,” NBC network said about the show.

SNL actress Kate McKinnon and actor Alec Baldwin are known for their roles of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. McKinnon plays a pretentious Clinton, while Baldwin portrays a spray-tanned, peculiar Trump.

This fall, the show came out with its first 2016 presidential debate skits. The skit received more than 21 million views and sparked a great deal of conversation between candidate supporters.

Evan Vishno ’19 said, “It’s good comic relief for the intensity of the election and all of the harsh rhetoric that both candidates are spewing at each other. I enjoy the satire and I think it’s funny because they are both such high profile people.”

Although Vishno may enjoy the presidential parodies, there are many who oppose it.

“SNL does not acknowledge the dangerous level of influence it exerts over the layman’s mind,” Preston Lust ’19 said. “I personally do not find the skits funny, nor completely rude, [but] rather repetitive and obvious.” There are others who believe that the election itself is not amusing, considering its unorthodox and troubling candidates, and therefore should not be taken humorously.

NPR’s Sam Sanders stated that, “‘Saturday Night Live’ is trying to make us laugh at an election that isn’t funny.”

Many viewers believe that “Saturday Night Live” has shown bias towards Hillary Clinton. “Well, I think they do mock Hillary just as much and it’s really funny and accurate, but it is pretty clear that SNL may be more with her than him,” Julie Kaplan ’17 said.

Donald Trump has voiced his thoughts about SNL’s potential bias towards Clinton on Twitter: “Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me. Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!”

Tess Jacobs ’20 believes that Donald Trump should not be getting mad over these skits. “I see the show as a liberal host who makes fun of the Republican party for nominating such a social figure during this election,” Jacobs said. “Yes, it may seem like they are targeting Trump. However I think he doesn’t present himself as calm as Hillary and makes more mistakes in the lime light giving SNL more to work with.”

SNL also spoofed the Vice Presidential Debate with several fake CNN breaking news interruptions which featured Trump “apologizing” for his lewd language after the tape of his 2005 interview with Billy Bush surfaced.

In the post election episode, Baldwin’s Trump did not make an appearance, but McKinnon’s Clinton sang a tribute to Leonard Cohen with a rendition of “Hallelujah” and after said, “I’m not giving up, and neither should you.”

The reaction to McKinnon’s performance proved to be thankful. One viewer tweeted, “Thank you #KateMcKinnon & #SNL Incredibly beautiful & moving. The perfect tone for a very stunning & troubling week for many Americans.”

In the show’s monologue, Dave Chappelle opened with a message to Trump. He addressed the fact that America has made great improvements in terms of race, and because of that, he is “proud to be an American.” He then wished Trump good luck and said that he’ll give him a chance. He then said, “We, the historically disenfranchised, demand that he give us one too.”