The 2016 presidential election is already one for the record books, with businessman and reality TV star Donald Trump’s shocking run toward the Republican nomination, while on the Democratic side, new voters have been engaged by a Jewish Democratic Socialist. The crazy cast of characters that has emerged includes an ambitious former First Lady (Hillary Clinton), a Canadian-born Cuban (Ted Cruz), a man-child (Marco Rubio), and a neurosurgeon (Ben Carson), among others; it’s these characters that we’re seeing appear on Saturday Night Live. Saturday Night Live’s unique blend of comedy is generated from its up-to-the minute improv style, which means that the show often reacts to presidential machinations just days and even hours after something happens. Here are our picks for the top 4 political sketches from election 2016.
1. Racists for Trump
Donald Trump hosted Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 2015, a decision that raised some eyebrows because Trump had already called for the mass deportation of latinos, whom he called “rapists and murderers.” (Trump would later also call for a ban on all Muslims). Perhaps SNL is now having second thoughts about giving Trump a platform, because they pulled no punches in their fake commercial, “Racists for Trump.” In this sketch, seemingly normal white Americans explain their earnest enthusiasm for Trump’s plans. Their real feelings are suddenly revealed, with one man raising his armband to reveal a Nazi symbol, and another chopping wood for a Klan rally.
2. Bern Your Enthusiasm
Larry David hosted SNL for the first time in January and his appearance did not disappoint. David’s Bernie Sanders impression is spot on in this mini-episode of David’s HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. In it, a Sanders-David hybrid character loses the Iowa primary after the famously people-averse David/Sanders declines to shake a woman’s hand after she coughs into it and refuses to help a woman pop her injured shoulder back into place so she can cast her vote for him. Amusingly, David/Sanders loses the caucus by two votes – the two women he didn’t help voted for Hillary. The sketch, which included appearances by Curb characters Jeff, Susie and Funkhouser, was good enough to be a classic episode of Curb.
3. Bar Talk
Kate McKinnon’s take on Hillary Clinton has earned its place in other memorable portrayals of Hillary on SNL by comedians like Amy Poehler. Her impression was used to great effect on the 2015 premiere episode, when Clinton stopped by to play a bartender named Val. The two traded meta-commentary, with Val saying “I’m just an ordinary citizen who believes the Keystone Pipeline will destroy our environment.” Another funny moment came as McKinnon’s Hillary says she evolved on marriage equality (McKinnon herself a lesbian) a little slower than she should have. Hillary as Val the bartender replies “Well, you did it pretty soon.”
4. Cold Open, December 19, 2015
SNL’s cold open parodies of the Republican presidential debates have been on point all season. A particularly enjoyable one featured Jay Pharoah’s hilarious impression of Ben Carson, who had appeared listless and barely awake in a recent debate. Carson stood with his hands hanging awkwardly in front of his body, and mildly discussed that time he sort of stabbed someone with a knife. The sketch is also memorable for Darrell Hammond reprising his role as Donald Trump, engaging in schoolyard taunts of Jeb Bush, mocking him as “Jebra” and calling him a “girl.”