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SNL 40 throws it back to some great political spoofs

It’s possible that the big Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend wasn’t just about flowers, chocolate and mattress sales. The SNL 40th anniversary episode aired on Sunday (wait, not on a Saturday?....ironic) and it was A BIG DEAL. It may have only taken up 3 ? hours but the best and worst of the tribute episode is all anyone can talk about.

Speaking of…

Best: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Jane Curtin reunited for a hilarious episode of the Weekend Update.

Worst: Eddie Murphy returns to SNL after a gazillion years and has nothing but a few seconds of awkwardness to share.

Best: We got to see a montage of audition clips from all of the great SNL cast members over the years.

Worst: The Californians sketch went on for way too long to be funny anymore.

Best: Paul McCartney sang.

Worst: Taylor Swift didn’t.

The good times go on and on-as do the bad. One of my favorite features of SNL comedy is the political spoofs. At one point in the SNL 40 episode they played a reel of the best political humor clips from the past 40 years.

You can catch the montage above, but I’ve pulled out some of my favorite sketches below that highlight some of the most laughable moments in political history. These comedy sketches help get me engaged in the conversation. Hopefully, they can make my fellow global citizens think about the issues as well (at least the American ones...or you can always just laugh at the Americans… you know whichever works for you).

1. Sexism in politics: Palin v. Clinton

Tina Fey’s impersonation of Sarah Palin is legendary. It went on to shape the public’s opinion of the Alaskan politician as she joined the 2008 US presidential race as Republican nominee McCain’s VP. But the hilarity aside, the mock speech talked about how sexism was coming into the race. In most countries, it’s hard enough for a woman to receive equal rights, let alone make it to a presidential race. So it’s no surprise that sexism played a role in people’s opinions. Most of this video I’m busy laughing at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but it’s important to keep in mind--minus a few exceptions of course, that have nothing to with gender--women are capable leaders.

2. NY and NJ Mayors respond to Hurricane Sandy Crisis

While natural disasters are no joking matter, Hurricane Sandy did give SNL the perfect opportunity to poke fun at some of the US’s more ridiculous political leaders. New York City’s old Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were at the center of this sketch. The clip kind of makes me think that political leaders don’t always get it right. Wait a sec, our leaders don’t always have our best interests in mind? Hmm….what a thought. Guess that’s why it’s important I keep the pressure on them this year.

3. We did stop...the government

Speaking of incompetency, remember that time the US government shutdown? Oh yeah, it’s happened more than once. This is what happens when children--er I mean political leaders-- can’t get along. Thankfully Miley Cyrus wrote the perfect song to use to parody the issue. I’m not sure what is more ridiculous, Miley Cyrus twerking or the government being out of business for days. Watch the music video and decide for yourself.

4. School of Rock remix

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that Republicans and Democrats aren’t getting along when the President makes an executive order and supersedes the power of either party. Whether or not you agree with Obama’s decision to grant temporary legal status to millions of illegal immigrants, the whole, side-stepping the democratic system does seem a bit sketchy (ha, pun intended). If any other world leader made a move like that, talk of dictatorship wouldn’t be far behind. This shows why all global citizens-even ones in the so called “advanced democracies”- need to keep their leaders accountable.

5. Obamacare is for health?

I’m really not trying to hate on Obama here, but these are some of the funniest skits and they can’t be ignored. This one spoofs on the utter confusion that went around when people were trying to figure out Obamacare. All of that political and legal jargon can DEFINITELY get confusing. Politicians need to remember to keep things simple when explaining the dealio, because even the most-genius rocket scientists can’t break down that lingo.

6. Reagan, the mastermind

This sketch get’s Ronald Reagan’s personality in a nutshell. I wasn’t around for his presidency, but from this skit it seems like he was a bit of an actor (ha!). Behind the scenes he may have been doing the dirty work in the name of his country, but I’m always an advocate for transparency where its possible. It’s important to keep people in the loop, because there can be more than few unforeseen consequences if they’re not.


There are PLENTY more presidential impersonations and political spoofs where these came from. SNL is good at what they do. I mean they have been around for a mere 40 years, but they’re there to remind us that we need to question our leaders’ actions and ALWAYS get a good laugh out of their mistakes. Global citizens take on serious issues, so it helps to have some humor to tackle them.

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Alex Vinci