With the third — and thankfully last — presidential debate behind us, we are sure to be gifted with more hilarious “Saturday Night Live” parodies of the current circus that has become our 2016 election. While SNL’s humor has always been hit-or-miss, its political lampooning is always on point. Here are some of SNL’s best political impressions:
This impression is obviously one of the most memorable of all time. What made Fey’s Sarah Palin so devastatingly effective is that most of the dialogue was lifted right out of Palin’s actual speeches and interviews. Most notable was the interview with Katie Couric, where once again, Fey lampooned Palin as incompetent and woefully uninformed. This impression had so much power that it actually affected popular perception of Palin, who has never recovered from the blow.
2. Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton
Despite the writing sometimes being subpar, McKinnon has always aced her role as Hillary Clinton. Her interpretation of the future president hits home as a weary, scarred politician who will stop at nothing to achieve her goals. “Citizens, you will elect me — I will be your leader,” she proclaims into the camera in the spoof of Clinton’s 2015 presidential announcement video. Ever since McKinnon first impersonated Clinton in early 2015 (a full skit pledged to those “pesky emails”), her Clinton sketches have consistently gone viral.
3. Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton
Hammond perfectly captures the entire persona of Bill Clinton — the easy-going attitude, Southern drawl and more-than-a-stray eye. He’s played Clinton since the mid-90s and has thankfully resurfaced his impression with Hillary’s march to the White House. “Oh my God, they’re multiplying,” he exclaimed when the real-life Hillary appeared on the show with her Kate McKinnon counterpart. What has made Hammond so durable as Bill Clinton is his ease in changing the character with changing public perception of the former president.
4. Will Ferrell as George W. Bush
Ferrell’s portrayal of our 43rd president as a bumbling, naïve Texas man was always right on the nose. A highlight was the parody of the first 2000 presidential debate, where Bush sums up his campaign with one word: “Strategery.” He also took time out of Frisbee golf with Condoleezza Rice to educate Americans on “global warmings.” The real George Bush may not be terribly missed, but Ferrell’s brilliant interpretation of him is.
5. Will Ferrell as Janet Reno
Another iconic Ferrell impersonation was of Bill Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno. Reno’s stoic, dour personality was perfect for Ferrell to poke at on the show. His Reno character became so popular it became a recurring sketch on the show — Janet Reno’s Dance Party. Reno would crowd surf, box with Rudy Giuliani before he went crazy and stage dive, all to avoid the fallout after the Waco disaster. Ferrell’s Reno may not be as remembered as some of the others on this list, but it’s still one definitely to check out.
6. Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump
The newest impression to join the show’s impressive history is brilliant, like Sarah Palin’s, because of Baldwin’s closeness to the actual Donald Trump. In the past three weeks, Trump has schooled Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton on how to pronounce China (“Gyna”), “apple-gized” for the infamous “Access Hollywood” video and claimed that Clinton and President Obama stole his debate microphone, took it to Kenya and broke it. The craziest thing is that none of those are that far off from what the actual Donald Trump has said. Baldwin’s impression is so good that it has the soon-to-be GOP loser shook.
7. Phil Hartman as Ronald Reagan
Phil Hartman’s Ronald Reagan is so great. Beneath that incompetent, fun-loving face Reagan showed to the world, was an ice-cold, ruthless evil mastermind. The juxtaposition is jarring but brilliantly played. In one sketch, after Reagan claims to a journalist he knows nothing about the Iran-Contra affair, he holds a meeting with his subordinates to finish the plans to continue to secretly fund the Contras. “This is the part of the job I hate,” Hartman’s Reagan exclaims when he’s forced to take a photo with a Girl Scout.