The Fine Line between Funny and Frightful


Saturday Night Live (SNL) is famous for its political sketches which have become a staple of the show which is now in its 42nd year. Every president from Gerald Ford to Donald Trump has been parodied as have many presidential candidates and presidential advisers.

Over the course of the past four decades, these SNL political spoofs have become must see television viewing.  Appearing on Saturday Night Live has also become a right of passage for many politicians where the real person would confront the reel performer. Presidents Gerald Ford,  George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama all made appearances. Most recently Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump were all show guests during the presidential campaign.

Back in the 1975, the lampoons represented good natured roasting. SNL had a field day making fun of President Ford as played by Chevy Chase falling  down the Air Force One steps during a visit to Austria. Of course the irony of this was that Ford was a former football star at University of Michigan.  2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin showed that she could take a joke when she referred to herself as “caribou Barbie”.

However, a lot has changed at Lorne Michaels’  brainchild over the past forty years including the program’s delivery of political humor. Lately, with SNL it has been a bit of hit and miss as to whether a particular segment is amusing or just overly politicized and in some cases extremely mean spirited. We have all heard the stories about the SNL writer who made some inappropriate tweets about President Trump’s ten year old son Barron Trump for which the writer was ultimately fired.

SNL’s February 4th program was a mixed bag.  Actress/Comedian Melissa McCarthy did an hysterical imitation of Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Her use of props was “laugh so hard you cry”  material.  Even Spicer when interviewed said that he thought the skit was “funny” and described SNL as being “part of American culture”. Of course, the liberal media jumped all over him for saying that Melissa McCarthy needed to “dial back” her performance and her gum chewing. Didn’t these people realize that Spicer was joking ?

However, in the very same episode Saturday Night Live dressed an actor up like the grim reaper to represent Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. And while the actual scene had funny moments with Bannon goading Trump as played by actor Alec Baldwin to call world leaders including Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the telephone, depicting Trump’s senior adviser as an executioner was not a laughing matter. However, the portrayal did further reinforce the sinister way in which the left views the President and his advisers. We can all get over the fact that the sketch intimated that Bannon is the real leader of the country because after all liberals have also accused former presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush of being simple minded yahoos who were actually just figureheads for a silent behind the scenes leader. However,  those attempts at humor were not aggressively peddling the concept that an angel of death is our shadow president.

Saturday Night Live should stick to what it does best, humorous portrayals of our leaders and satirical analysis of the news of the day. Fear mongering a one sided nightmare is not entertainment.

Leonora Cravotta is the Program & Talent Director for Red State Talk Radio, the Co-Host for the Scott Adams Show, a political radio talk show, and a syndicated writer for conservative publications.