The 13 Best ‘SNL’ Political Impressions of All Time
Image: SNL cold open, George W. Bush presidential address (season 41, ep: 8)
In partnership with Seeso. Sign up now for only $3.99.
It’s an election year, which means Saturday Night Live has amped up the political mockery. The late-night comedy show has always been on point when it comes to biting political satire, with the most recent example being Kate McKinnon’s incredible rendering of Hillary Clinton. This begs a look back at some of the standout political impressions in SNL history.
Lucky for you, the new comedy-focused streaming service Seeso has the complete SNL library – yes, 41+ seasons. Over there, you can watch your favorite episodes and individual sketches — like these that knock presidents, senators, governors, and other powerful people down a peg. Here’s our handy guide on what to watch to keep you on top of your political history game.
- George W. Bush and Al Gore (Will Ferrell and Darrell Hammond) [S. 26, Ep: 1, 2000]
This was one of our first glimpses of the 2000 presidential candidates on SNL. Images that would haunt and harm both candidates: Bush as bro, Gore as bore. Will Ferrell nails so well that he did an entire one-hour special as G.W. (which is not on Seeso, unfortunately).
- Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) [S. 34, Ep:1, 2008]
A sketch so influential, stuff Fey said as Palin has since been credited to the real Palin.
- Ben Carson (Jay Pharoah) [S. 41, Ep:5 2015]
You are getting very sleepy.
- Janet Reno (Will Ferrell) [S. 23, Ep: 7 1997]
Ferrell imagines the Attorney General as we all did: hosting a TV dance party for teens in her basement and dancing all herky-jerky to “My Sharona.”
Clinton was truly a man of the people, jogging too little and eating fast food too much.
Norm and Dole have pretty much the same cadence, so all he had to do was act grouchy. In an attempt to attract the young vote, Bob Dole announces his Vice Presidential running mate: eccentric NBA star Dennis Rodman.
- Ronald Reagan (Phil Hartman) [S. 12, Ep: 6 1986]
A brutal parody of Reagan’s public image: jovial, joking, avuncular, crossed with “secret Reagan”: cold, calculating, maniacal.
- New York Governor David Paterson (Fred Armisen) [S. 35, Ep:11 2010]
Aren’t politicians really just hack stand-up comedians?
- George Bush and Dan Quayle (Dana Carvey and Jeff Renaudo) [S. 16, Ep: 5, 1990]
Carvey’s Bush is of course ridiculous, but it was pretty smart to get an actual child to play the youthful, immature Vice President.
- H. Ross Perot and James Stockdale (Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman) [S. 18, Ep:4, 1992]
The 1992 presidential election was almost as crazy as the 2016 one, in part due to the inclusion of independent candidate Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot and his not-quite-ready-for-primetime running mate.
- Mitt Romney (Jason Sudeikis) [S. 38, Ep:7, 2012]
No one but the fratty, handsome, kinda smarmy Sudeikis could play the milk-guzzling Utah governor.
- Gerald Ford (Chevy Chase) [S. 1, Ep:8 1975]
Chase didn’t think it was necessary to make himself actually look like the president. Instead, he just fell down a lot. It worked.
Kate McKinnon’s wild-eyed portrayal of the fairer Clinton has been one of the best parts of the 2016 election cycle.
Sign up now for only $3.99 and watch the entire SNL archive.