Saturday Night Live parodies of Hillary Clinton

Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton (right) and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin (left) in their Saturday Night Live sketch, "A Nonpartisan Message from Governor Sarah Palin & Senator Hillary Clinton", September 2008

The sketch comedy television show Saturday Night Live (SNL) has over the years for almost three decades aired a number of sketches parodying Hillary Clinton, from her time as First Lady, and during both her unsuccessful 2008 run for the presidency, and her candidacy in the 2016 presidential campaign.[1]

A total of nine different performers have played Hillary Clinton on SNL.[2] The array of SNL cast members portraying Clinton has included Jan Hooks, Janeane Garofalo, Vanessa Bayer, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, and Kate McKinnon.[1] Guest stars playing Clinton have included Drew Barrymore and Rachel Dratch,[2] and one sketch even featured Miley Cyrus in a guest appearance as Clinton, rapping: "What's up y'all? I'm like Hillary Clint [sic], and I wanna be president one day."[3]

Early portrayals

Jan Hooks was the first to portray Hillary Clinton, and after Hooks left the show in 1991, she returned later to make several subsequent guest appearances as Hillary, with Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton.[1] One of the earliest Jan Hooks sketches, which aired in May 1993, features her interpretation of Hillary eager to be a "co-president" with newly elected President Bill Clinton. Hooks' Hillary tells her husband about her big plans for his health care bill, and gets into a fistfight with Senator Bob Dole.[4]

Beginning with the 1994 season, Janeane Garofalo played Hillary as First Lady, with Michael McKean portraying the president.[1]

Ana Gasteyer played Hillary during the Monica Lewinsky scandal of the late 1990s, as well as during her run for the U.S. Senate in New York, with Darrell Hammond playing the role of her husband.[1] In one Gasteyer sketch, set in the Clintons' Chappaqua kitchen, with Hillary making an attempt to appear more personable for the cameras during her Senate campaign, she says, "I can't wait to prepare some food dishes in this kitchen, such as salads and toast."[4]

Amy Poehler parodies

SNL cast member Amy Poehler had the longest-running role as Clinton, playing the role regularly from 2003 to 2008 (and reprising it twice, in 2012 and 2015).[1]

In a sketch in the 2007–08 season, Poehler as Clinton hosts a Halloween party for the entire field of then-Democratic candidates for the 2008 presidential primary election. Poehler's Clinton tells rival candidate John Edwards, played by SNL's Will Forte, "come next November, we all have to support the Democratic nominee, no matter who she may be."[4]

Near the end of the party, a man walks in wearing an Obama mask, which he then removes to reveal the real then-Senator Barack Obama, making a cameo appearance. "I have nothing to hide," he tells Clinton. "I enjoy being myself. I'm not going to change who I am just because it's Halloween."[5]

During the 2008–09 season, the show aired several critically acclaimed sketches featuring Poehler as Clinton, and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.[6] The first sketch, "A Nonpartisan Message from Governor Sarah Palin & Senator Hillary Clinton" (written by Poehler, Fey, and head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers) aired during the thirty-fourth season premiere of SNL in September 2008.[7] Poehler and Fey are featured giving fictional speeches by then New York Senator Clinton as an unsuccessful contender for the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nomination, and then Alaska Governor Palin, who was the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee. The two discuss sexism in the presidential election campaign:[8]

Poehler (as Clinton): Sarah, one thing we can agree on is that sexism can never be allowed to permeate an American election.
Fey (as Palin): So, please, stop photo-shopping my head on sexy bikini pictures!
Poehler: And stop saying I have cankles!
Fey: Don't refer to me as a MILF!
Poehler: Don't refer to me as a "flurge" – I Googled what it stands for, and I do not like it![8]

In the same skit, Poehler as Clinton says to Fey's Palin: "I didn't want a woman to be president, I wanted to be president, and I just happened to be a woman. I scratched and clawed through mud and barbed wire! And you just glided in on a dogsled, wearing your pageant sash, and your stupid Tina Fey glasses!"[9]

It was during the 2008–09 season, while Poehler was playing Clinton, that Hillary Clinton herself made an appearance on the show, and faced off with Poehler as her doppelgänger.[1] The real Sarah Palin also made a guest appearance during season 34.[10]

Present portrayal

Kate McKinnon has portrayed Clinton regularly since March 2015 (after playing the role once prior in 2013). As of the end of the 2016 election, she is tied for the longest-running Hillary with Amy Poehler, both with 19 performances in the role, and ahead of Ana Gasteyer (at 16), despite having played it for less than half as long as either.[11] Darrell Hammond has stated that he only agreed to reprise his role as Bill Clinton because he felt McKinnon was so good in her role, calling her a "virtuoso".[12]

McKinnon appeared as Clinton alongside Amy Poehler's Clinton (and Tina Fey's Sarah Palin) when the duo returned to host in 2015, with the premise that 2008 Hillary had come to congratulate 2016 Hillary in a dream.

2014–15 season

In the 2014–2015 season, SNL began airing another series of Hillary Clinton sketches, on the occasion of Clinton's announcement of her candidacy for the 2016 presidential campaign, with Kate McKinnon now as Clinton.[13]

In one McKinnon sketch, set in SNL's version of the living room of the Clintons' house in Chappaqua, New York, McKinnon's Clinton, sitting on a flowered print sofa, wrestles with her decision of whether or not to run for the presidency.[1] In another, McKinnon as Clinton tries to film a video of herself to kick-off her campaign using her smartphone.[14] When it doesn't turn out well, her aide (played by a patronizing Vanessa Bayer) suggests that she delete it. McKinnon's Clinton says, "I know a thing or two about that, right?", and chuckles, referring to the controversy surrounding Clinton's emails.[15] She then, rather asking for a high five, tells her assistant, “Meet my hand in the air.”[16]

In one sketch, she looks straight into the camera and says, "Those emails are clean as a whistle. This is not how Hillary Clinton goes down".[15] She goes on to talk about what she describes as her now "mature romance" with her husband, showing a "Happy Anniversary" email she has written to Bill Clinton, which reads:

"Dear Sir or Madam:
Congratulations on your continued marital success.
I would like to schedule a sit-down at your earliest convenience.
The Office of Hillary Clinton"

Former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond returned to reprise his portrayal of Bill Clinton in the 2014–15 season skits.[17]

2015–16 season

Episode 1

In SNL's 2015–16 season premiere on October 3, 2015, McKinnon reprised her Clinton impression for the new season, portraying the presidential candidate enjoying a drink, opposite the real Hillary Clinton playing a bartender named "Val", who sings with her doppelgänger, and offers her counsel.[18] "So Hillary, what brings you here tonight?", Clinton asks McKinnon. "Well, I needed to blow off some steam. I've had a hard couple of 22 years." McKinnon-as-Clinton responds.[19] Cecily Strong plays Clinton's aide Huma Abedin in the skit, and former cast member Darrell Hammond appears in a cameo as Bill Clinton.[18]

Episode 3

McKinnon again portrayed Clinton on October 17, 2015, for SNL's rendering of the Democratic Primary Presidential debate which had aired on CNN October 13.[20] Rounding out the cast for SNL's version of the debate were: "Seinfeld" writer Larry David as Bernie Sanders, Taran Killam as Martin O'Malley, Kyle Mooney as Lincoln Chafee, and guest star Alec Baldwin as Jim Webb. New cast member Jon Rudnitsky portrayed CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper.[20] The occasion marked "Seinfeld" writer David's return to SNL after 30 years.[21] His impression of Vermont senator Sanders headed up the show's cold open with David's Sanders waving his arms and saying: “I’m going to dial it right up to a ten: We’re doomed! We need a revolution! We’ve got millions of people in the streets. We gotta do something and we gotta do it now”, standing podium-to-podium with Baldwin's macho Vietnam veteran and former Virginia senator Webb, McKinnon's Clinton, and the other candidates.[21]

In her opening remarks for the debate parody, McKinnon's Clinton greeted the audience saying: "I think you're really going to like the Hillary Clinton my team and I have created for this debate. She's warm, but strong; flawed, yet perfect; relaxed, but racing full-speed towards the White House like the T-1000 from Terminator."[20] Later in the debate she remarked, "I'm not losing, am I? I mean, in 2008 of course I lost, but I was running against a cool black guy. But this year, I thought I got to be the cool black guy."[20] In conclusion, she quipped about her opponent Bernie Sanders: "He's the song of the summer. He's Trap Queen by Fetty Wap. But I'm the 'Birthday Song', guys, and you're going to be singin' me until the day you die."[20]

Episode 9

On December 19, 2015, during the episode co-hosted by Fey and Poehler, McKinnon's current Clinton met Poehler's 2008 Clinton in a sketch titled "A Hillary Christmas", where Poehler's version visited McKinnon, with a guest appearance from Fey as Sarah Palin.[22]

Episode 15

On March 12, 2016, in episode 15 of season 41, Kate McKinnon spoofed Hillary Clinton in a faux campaign ad that portrayed how the campaign rhetoric of Clinton increasingly acquired more progressive overtones as a response to the progressive leftist ideology of Bernie Sanders. The ad features McKinnon as Hillary, using phrases commonly used by Bernie Sanders and also mimics his Brooklyn accent. It further goes onto show McKinnon as Hillary morph into McKinnon as Hillary as Bernie Sanders, dressed in a oversize suit and sporting white hair.[23][24][25]

2016–2017 season

Despite earlier reports that Darrell Hammond would reprise his role as Donald Trump for SNL's parodies of the 2016 presidential debates, the show later confirmed that McKinnon will instead star opposite Alec Baldwin in those sketches.[26] McKinnon was the first SNL actress to portray a female major party candidate for president.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Liz Raftery – "Who Did the Best Hillary Clinton Impression on SNL?", TV Guide, April 30, 2015. (Video) Retrieved 2015-08-15
  2. 1 2 Louis Virtel – Hillary Clinton has been Imitated by Nine Different People on 'SNL', HITFIX, April 13, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  3. Hunter Schwarz – "Why Hillary Clinton for President is Great for SNL — and Comedy in General, Washington Post, April 13, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  4. 1 2 3 Ali Elkin – "The SNL Archaeology of Hillary Clinton: The satirical show may offer the truest biography of the Democratic frontrunner, Bloomberg Politics, March 27, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  5. "Palin, Clinton, other politicians who've appeared on 'SNL'," Associated Press, November 6, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-08
  6. James Poniewozik – "Fey's Palin? Not Failin'," Time, September 14, 2008. Retrieved 2015-08-14
  7. NBC Universal Press Release: "Tina Fey Guest Stars On Saturday Night Live Season Premiere As Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Gov. Sarah Palin", Media Village, September 9, 2008.
  8. 1 2 SNL Transcripts – Season 34; Episode 1. Retrieved 2015-08-15
  9. Hilary Lewis – "Five of 'SNL's' Most Memorable Hillary Clinton Sketches", The Hollywood Reporter (video), April 12, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  10. Saturday Night Live Transcripts – Season 34, 2008–09. Retrieved 2015-08-15
  13. Jack Linshi – "Watch SNL Parody Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Announcement", Time, April 12, 2015. (Video) Retrieved 2015-08-14
  14. Keely Lockhart – "Saturday Night Live pokes fun at Hillary Clinton's presidential announcement: 'Buckle up, America, the Clintons are back' – Comedienne Kate McKinnon parodies Hillary Clinton in popular TV sketch show SNL", The Telegraph, April 12, 2015. (Video) Retrieved 2015-08-14
  15. 1 2 3 Henry Hanks – "'Saturday Night Live' takes on Hillary Clinton email controversy", CNN, March 9, 2015. (Video) Retrieved 2015-08-15
  16. Ian Crouch – "Kate McKinnon’s Genius Hillary Impersonation", The New Yorker, April 13, 2015. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  17. Eric Bradner – "Saturday Night Live: 'The Clintons are baaack'," CNN Politics, Updated April 12, 2015. (Video) Retrieved 2015-08-14
  18. 1 2 Monica Alba and Jillian Sederholm – "Hillary Clinton Tends Bar, Impersonates Trump in 'SNL' Cameo" (Video), NBC News, October 4, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-04
  19. Story Hinckley – "Hillary on SNL: Why do we want our politicians to seem funny? – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared on Saturday Night Live this week, continuing a long relationship between politicians and late night comedy", The Christian Science Monitor, October 4, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-04
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 "Democratic Debate Cold Open" (Video), Retrieved 2015-10-18
  21. 1 2 Nicole Hensley - "Larry David and Bernie Sanders are one and the same in 'SNL' cold open" (Video), NY Daily News, October 18, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-18
  22. Evans, Greg (2015-12-20). "Amy Poehler & Kate McKinnon Turn Hillary For Christmas, & Get Sarah Palin And Amy Schumer too – 'Saturday Night Live'". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  23. "Hillary Campaign Ad". SNL Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  24. Carly Mallenbaum (13 March 2016). "Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton becomes Bernie Sanders in 'SNL' spoof". Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  25. Taylor Weatherby (13 March 2016). "Kate McKinnon Morphs Hillary Clinton Into Bernie Sanders In Funny 'SNL' Ad — Watch". Retrieved 2 April 2016.

External links

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