Saturday Night Live is going to have a lot to work with when the show comes back from a brief break on November 7th. Not only do they have a new Republican debate to rip apart, but the actual Donald Trump will be there as host. The obvious move would be to have Trump play himself, but sometimes they like to subvert expectations. Maybe he’ll play a low-energy Jeb Bush and Taran Killam will again play Trump.
It should be a pretty great episode, but it’ll be hard to top some of the great debate spoofs from the show’s long history. The 2008 cycle made history with Tina Fey’s incredible portrayal of Sarah Palin, and Daryl Hammond’s impression of Al Gore in the 2000 “lock box” debate was more memorable than anything that happened in the actual Bush/Gore encounter. And that’s just looking back at the 2000s. Phil Hartman was devastating Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, and Jon Lovitz killed as Michael Kukakis in 1988.
The greatest debate spoofs, however, may have come during the 1992 election. The addition of Ross Perot to the race was the gift that kept on giving, and by that point Dana Carvey had his George H.W. Bush impression down to a science. Phil Hartman eased right into Bill Clinton, and the only challenge they had was finding a way to let Dana Carvey play both Perot and Bush simultaneously. They ultimately decided to put David Spade in the Perot makeup for blocking purposes and pre-tape Carvey for the closeups.
Kevin Nealon dressed up as Sam Donaldson, and opened up the debate with a great question. “Let’s be frank,” he said to Bill Clinton. “You’re running for president, but your only experience has been as the governor of a small backwoods state with a population of drunken hillbillies running around in pickup trucks. The main streets of your capitol city, Little Rock, are like something out of Lil’l Abner with buxom, underage girls in cutoff denims prancing around in front of Jethro and Billy Bob while corncob pipe-smoking, shotgun-toting, drunken grannies fire indiscriminately at runaway hogs. My question is, how can you stand it? Don’t you lose your mind down there?”
Things only got crazier from there. Bush soon chimed in to talk about a time he was attacked by a group of “inbred mountain people” while on a fishing trip, and Perot butted in to say that Arkansas only had “a bunch of ignorant, inbred crackers, peckerwoods.” The whole skit is just an amazing showcase for Dana Carvey’s insane talents. The show had an enormous arsenal of talent that season, and they still let Carvey portray two out of the three presidential candidates. He was that good.
Let’s hope that someone on the current team is working on their Marco Rubio impersonation. If not, they should just bring back Dana Carvey.