“Saturday Night Live” just wrapped up its 42nd season, and boy, has it been an unusual one.
Unusual times call for unusual measures. The flurry of Washington-driven news dominating headlines also means the topic dominates late-night comedy, and SNL — which enjoyed its highest ratings in decades this season — is no different. And while the NBC show always goes heavy on the political jokes in election years, rarely has it ratcheted up these kinds of sketches well after the campaigns are over.
We’ve compiled the top 10 best political SNL sketches from this season (which began Oct. 1 and ended May 20). And because the show managed to also do nonpolitical stuff, we have five other favorite sketches that — we promise — have nothing to do with the presidency.
Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks (Oct. 22)
One of the most incisive and best political sketches this season on SNL didn’t even feature Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump or Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton. Instead, the show turned to its running “Black Jeopardy” sketch, but this time, with Tom Hanks playing a white Trump supporter. As The Post’s Dan Zak wrote, it was “smart, funny and topical (a rare trifecta on SNL) and slyly illustrated that America’s problems are just as much about class as about race. In a campaign year that’s hinged on racial discord, partisan rancor and a deep suspicion of anyone who is ‘other,’ the sketch was deliciously cathartic.”
The first Sean Spicer news conference (Feb. 4)
While SNL has no shortage of white guys to impersonate a white guy in Washington, Melissa McCarthy playing White House press secretary Sean Spicer ended up being the breakout sketch of the year. By this point, we had all come to expect Baldwin making fun of Trump, but McCarthy seemed to come out of nowhere. In fact, it seemed to take the live studio audience a few moments before they realized Spicer was her.
“It was very quiet at first, and I’m thinking, ‘The audience is already turning before they even know what’s going on,’” McCarthy told the Hollywood Reporter. “There was this weird, great delay, and first people figure out it’s Spicer and then they figure out it’s me. You could just feel it in the room.”
Apparently, her take on Spicer — an outrageous, raving spokesman being forced to push forward ridiculous claims — unsettled the West Wing so much that rumors circulated about how long the real-life Spicer would work for the image-obsessed president.
Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton town hall debate cold open (Oct. 15)
Presidential debates, typical SNL fodder, drew especially high ratings this election cycle. The late-night show capitalized on this by incorporating several key moments from the second of the Trump-Clinton debates (Ken Bone, anyone?) and mixing in plenty of pointed jabs. Plus, Baldwin’s Trump was great lurking behind McKinnon’s Clinton to the theme of “Jaws.”
This was also the sketch that prompted the Republican presidential nominee to tweet his disdain of “Saturday Night Live” — which he continued to do repeatedly in the ensuing months.
Election Night (Nov. 12)
This sketch perfectly encapsulated conversations many white liberals had at parties on election night. Guest host Dave Chappelle, joined by Chris Rock, responded to the increasing worry among other partygoers over Trump’s impending win. “Oh, my God, I think America is racist,” one white liberal remarked.
“Oh, my God,” Chappelle’s character said, with fake shock. “You know, I remember my great-great-grandfather told me something like that. But you know he was, like, a slave or something, I don’t know.”
Writer Bryan Tucker said he had been watching the returns on election night with Chappelle and cast member Leslie Jones. “A lot of people in the office were shocked, many were upset, but Dave and Leslie just kind of shrugged. They were like, ‘That’s what happens,’” Tucker told THR. “That attitude was the inspiration for the election night sketch.”
Jones told the outlet that “the sketch was just so real and honest because that’s pretty much how I am when I’m around my white friends. It’s like we’ve been living in this world forever, and you all just woke up to it.”
A day off with Kellyanne Conway (Oct. 8)
This prerecorded number showed McKinnon — who has come to play more than one person in Trump’s orbit — as campaign manager Kellyanne Conway trying to enjoy a day off. But calls from CNN to explain the latest statements from the GOP nominee interrupt her doing yoga, painting and grocery shopping.
Conway’s husband, George, told The Post he and his family found this sketch “hysterical,” but they stopped watching the SNL impersonations of her when they turned mean.
Melanianade (Oct. 15)
Another super-produced video was the SNL parody of Beyoncé’s “Sorry,” a sketch that featured the women in Trump’s life while perfectly matching the aesthetic of the source material. It dropped during the most tumultuous period of his candidacy, after accusations by numerous women that Trump had made unwanted sexual advances.
“Here lies my last nerve, Donald,” says Cecily Strong as Trump’s wife, Melania. “I’ve stood by your side this whole campaign. Your beautiful, dutiful Melania. I can’t take it anymore. I am your wife.”
“Your daughter,” says Emily Blunt as Ivanka Trump. “Your mouthpiece,” says McKinnon’s Conway. “Your one black friend,” says Sasheer Zamata as Omarosa. “Your other daughter,” says Vanessa Bayer as Tiffany Trump.
The Bubble (Nov. 19)
Airing two weeks after Election Day, this fake commercial about life in a literal bubble ended up being one of the few sketches this season that exclusively skewered liberals and captured the disconnect and denial many felt with Trump’s victory. This bubble is “a community of like-minded, free thinkers … and no one else.”
Complicit (March 11)
SNL has turned to more than one person to play Trump’s daughter, Ivanka. Here, we have a fake perfume ad that stars guest host Scarlett Johansson in the role.
Writer Chris Kelly told THR, “We’d spend hours and hours trying to come up with an Ivanka sketch and then bail on it because it just didn’t seem right. … We really tried to jam through some Titanic-y idea for weeks, and then eventually we thought of this perfume angle.”
As The Post’s Abby Phillip wrote, the sketch “encapsulates the main critique of Trump’s critics, who say there is little evidence that the first daughter has served as a moderating force within her father’s administration. Now officially a White House employee and an adviser to President Trump, Ivanka is dismissing detractors who say that her presence in the inner fold of the Trump administration makes her complicit in its actions.”
Oval Office (Feb. 4)
Okay, we guess we have to throw another Baldwin-as-Trump moment into the mix. As SNL tried to grapple with the reality of Trump in the White House, it relied on a Grim Reaper to be its Steve Bannon — and in this sketch, he’s the real president. Bannon eggs on a cranky Trump to place disastrous phone calls to world leaders, including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, played by Kenan Thompson.
“You think you are a real dictator?” Mugabe asks. “I will rip out your spine and drink from your skull! You cannot even walk down stairs, you little white b‑‑‑‑! Don’t you ever call Zimbabwe again!”
SNL also staged some totally-out-of-left-field-silly sketches that have no news peg whatsoever. Here are five of our favorites: