Is Saturday Night Live guilty of making the political figures it satirizes more relatable in the eyes of viewers? It’s a charge that has been levied against the show periodically over the years, including not long ago on Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast in reference to Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin.
And it was something that former “Weekend Update” anchor Norm Macdonald brought up in his interview with The Daily Beast last week — not in a column that he wrote, as The View’s Joy Behar said Monday morning during a segment with current “Weekend Update” anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che.
“I think they’re playing into Trump’s hands,” Macdonald told us of SNL’s political sketches this past season. “Because if you satirize someone, or mock them, you’re trivializing any danger that they might be. I don’t know any other way to do something. You can’t get a laugh without making the person more likable.”
In response, Jost said that if Alec Baldwin’s goal is to make Trump “more likable, I would say it’s not working.” President Trump “was already likable,” he added, “before our show.”
“He had a hit TV show. Somebody liked him,” Che said. “I think politics has become so TV-driven that it’s only a matter of time before someone who’s really good at TV becomes good at politics.” Trump was able to “exploit” that reality, he said, to the point of being elected president.
By contrast, Behar argued that SNL can “take credit” for Palin’s downfall, to which Jost said, “She took care of a lot of that herself.”
As The View’s Sara Haines pointed out, Trump essentially helped SNL reach not only record ratings this past season, but also more Emmy nominations than ever before, including nods for Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy’s turn as Sean Spicer. If Jost and Che get to make a speech at the Emmys this fall, Haines wanted to know if they will thank the president.
Che compared it to the way people thank God when they win awards. “I want to thank Donald Trump,” he said, pointing to the sky.
Jost took the bit on step further by pointing to the sky for God and down below for Trump. “I’ll thank him for all the stuff he’s doing for America, but I don’t know about the stuff he’s doing for our show, we’ll see,” he said, sarcastically.
“I do like Donald Trump,” Che added. “I just wish he wasn’t our president.”