Why Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer is SNL’s Best Sketch of the Year
It’s no secret that Saturday Night Live has grown more and more liberal over the years. Sure, they make fun of Democrats, but they really go after Republicans to the nth degree, certainly during this election cycle. With President Trump in particular, the SNL writers hold nothing back and neither does Alec Baldwin.
But in the latest episode, they found themselves a new target: Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
It’s a bold statement, especially after months of watching Baldwin channel Trump and Kate McKinnon doing an uncanny Hillary Clinton. But there are two reasons why this sketch in particular was best in the class.
First, it was brilliant satire. Melissa McCarthy captured Spicer’s hostility to the White House press corps. While Spicer in real life isn’t that angry, the sketch pokes fun at what he might want to do like jailing CNN’s Jim Acosta or squirting reporters with a water gun. And his now-iconic way to respond to tough questions was completely spot-on like his bickering with a reporter about who starting using the word “ban”. And like the real daily press briefings, the sketch covered a lot of topics including Steve Bannon, the White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Trump’s Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos (played briefly by McKinnon). It was a long checklist and this sketch nailed every one of them. And the prop comedy was hysterical (”radical moose lambs” had me crying!).
Second, and most importantly, this was the first political sketch that was funny without having to be malicious. Nearly every sketch involving Trump makes him out to be a racist, a fascist, and an utter moron. Even in the cold open, there were more tiresome jokes that eluded to the president being a Nazi and Steve Bannon literally being the Grim Reaper. But in this sketch, SNL managed to poke fun at Spicer without outrageous personal attacks. The writing was good-natured and disciplined. Even the biggest Trump supporters should be able to laugh out loud at this.
Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer is the greatest impression since Larry David played Bernie Sanders last season and this sketch is on-par with Tina Fey’s debut as Sarah Palin. Bipartisan humor that can have both Democrats and Republicans laughing is the winning strategy. While the odds are still strong that President Trump will angrily tweet about SNL at 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s sketches like this that can make SNL great again.
the most exciting year for SNL in recent memory was definitely 2008. Tina Fey was killing it as Sarah Palin, Amy Poehler was 9 months pregnant and still doing live shows, Mark Wahlberg threatened to beat up Andy Samberg, Bobby Moynihan had just joined the cast, You’re in the Motherfucking Space Olympics, etc..