Ever since the show’s inception, political jokes have been a staple of routines on Saturday Night Live (SNL). With the advent of the Trump administration, sketches about politics are becoming increasingly common on the popular NBC show, from Alec Baldwin’s recurring depiction of President Donald Trump to Matt Damon’s portrayal of Brett Kavanaugh.
Despite the overwhelming presence of politics in the show, senior and comedy section editor Cole Wright-Schaner does not think that the show can affect the minds of the viewers. “I think people go into SNL having preconceived notions [about] politics,” he said.
Wright-Schaner said that SNL often hits the nail on the head when it comes to political impressions. He thought Damon’s Kavanaugh was “hilarious” but “it used real quotes, which was scary.”
While SNL’s political sketches may not have much sway on the polls, impressions of important political figures often become inseparable from the original speaker. Years ago, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression was so convincing and so famous that news outlets would put up a picture of Fey in place of Palin herself.
Sophomore Noah Weitzner agreed that these impressions are very memorable. “I think honestly it’s not the best impression but it’s hilarious and when I think of Trump’s voice I think of Alec Baldwin’s voice,” Weitzner said.
Generally, SNL’s comedic take on American events is known for its ability to unite audiences. “I think SNL is important because it takes us out of the perspective of how awful America is becoming. And it sort of lets us sit back and laugh and take things less seriously. But it also helps us realize how much more important these issues are,” freshman Eli Faber said.
Junior Tess Thornton agreed with Faber, saying that SNL “brings a bunch of people together to laugh at the same subject,” but conceded that the show’s political sketches can be “a little problematic” because of their one-sidedness.
“We need to hear the other side,” Thornton said.
Ultimately, students took away that SNL’s political side is amusing and a constructive way to make meaning of the chaos of politics. As Wright-Schaner said, “finding the comedy in times of distress is cathartic and healing.”
By: Caroline Katzive’19 and Mica Maltzman’20