This Saturday, Melissa McCarthy will host Saturday Night Live for the fifth time – and if the promo she dropped a few days ago is any indication, the comedian will probably be trotting out her killer Sean Spicer impersonation at least once. To say that her hilarious take on the White House press secretary has been one of the best things about this past season is a vast understatement – that first surprise appearance of her gum-chewing, Super Soaker-toting, media-bashing lackey was the sort of reminder that, when SNL seizes a moment while running on all cylinders, the show can add to the political discourse that can be deep or downright damning.
But while the long-running comedy institution has been especially tuned in to policy matters and the powers that be since kicking off Season 42 last October, Saturday Night Live has always turned to political humor for inspiration (and served as the basis of many memorable impersonations). It’s been fertile ground for topical takedowns week after week, but that’s not to say that many of those skits aren’t timeless. Just say “strategery” or “lockbox” to someone and watch them crack up.
So in honor of McCarthy’s Spicer returning to Studio 8H, we’re looking back at the 20 greatest political sketches throughout the show’s history – from clumsy Fords to clueless Dubyas, from undecided voters to venomous debates. We’re leaving “Weekend Update” out of the mix – you could do a whole other list on SNL‘s top-shelf fake-news segments that have left bruised egos and belly laughs in their wake. These are the bits that have changed public outlook, occasionally spoke truth to power and still crack us up.