11 of the Best 'Saturday Night Live' Political Sketches, Starring Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and More!
By John Boone
Saturday Night Live: Come for the celebrity hosts, stay for the politics!
Sure, it's always fun to watch actors and pop stars and, uhh, mixed martial artists don wigs and try out accents, but the best skits are always when SNL's regular players lampoon the current state of politics, rarely with the help of any special guests. (With a few exceptions. See: No. 9 and 10.)
We looked back on 30 years of Saturday Night politics and picked our 11 favorite skits:
1. Katie Couric Interviews Sarah Palin
If there was ever a politician created to be impersonated, it's the former Alaska governor. Tina Fey's gee golly go at Palin during the vice presidential hopeful's "I can see Russia from my house" days is one to remember, only upstaged by Couric's (Amy Poehler) unsettled blinking.
2. Barack Obama’s Healthcare.gov Meeting
If you close your eyes and only listen to Jay Pharoah's Obama impression, it's pretty hard to differentiate it from the real POTUS. One standout skit featured the president spinning the Obamacare website debacle, culminating in a kiss on the mouth with Justin Bieber (played by SNL standout Kate McKinnon).
3. President Reagan, Mastermind
Ronald Reagan is a tough president to parody. Dems love him. Republicans love him. So, Phil Hartman's take on the commander in chief portrayed him as hopelessly clueless in public, but an evil mastermind who hates taking pictures with Girl Scouts behind closed doors. Hilarity ensues.
One of Chevy Chase's best impressions -- and that's saying something, because there were many -- was his non-impression of Gerald Ford, which, in this skit, begins with a scroll which states, "This is not a good impression of Gerald Ford, but Rich Little won’t work for scale."
5. The First Democratic Debate of the 2016 Campaign
Entering the 2016 presidential race, we knew SNL would get ample fodder out of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, but the biggest surprise was Larry David debuting his "dialed to a 10" take on Bernie Sanders.
6. Former President Bill Clinton Makes an "Exciting Announcement"
Darrell Hammond has impersonated countless presidents, vice presidents, and presidential and vice presidential hopefuls over the years on SNL. None are as effective as his Clinton, like in this skit where he announces his appointment as Husband of the Secretary of State.
Hartman's Clinton impression is in the details -- right down to that laugh -- but the reason this sketch, which sees the president making a pit stop at a Micky D's during a jog, works so well is his utter dedication to physical comedy. Plus, there's a Chris Farley appearance!
8. George Bush Sr.'s Debate Advice for George W. Bush
Two of the most iconic Bush impressions of all time in one sketch. Dana Carvey's George H. W. gives pre-debate advice to his beer-swiggin' son (Will Ferrell), who thinks it's just "wicked" that he is going to be president. Mostly, the advice is to slip 'n slide.
9. Parallel Universe
Al Gore plays Al Gore, the greatest president of all time -- in an alternate timeline. In his United States, President Gore has stopped global warming, George W. Bush is a baseball commissioner and the most popular spring break destination is...Afghanistan!
Poehler's Clinton impression was a tough act to follow, but McKinnon more than rose to the occasion. And what a treat it was to see her take on the presidential candidate chat with the real-life Clinton, who played a bartender named Val who is "really easy to talk to."
11. Sarah Palin Endorses Our Next President, Don J. Trump
We start and end with Fey's Palin, because it really is the best. Her most recent appearance had the former Sarah Palin's Alaska star taking a break from her "full-time career of writing things on Facebook" to lend her "right wingin', bitter clingin'" support to Trump (Hammond).
Check out more SNL satirical political fun in Hulu's collection of campaign primary-inspired clips here.
Now, find out what Bristol Palin thinks of Fey’s latest portrayal of her mom. Spoiler alert: It's not a nice review.