Jan Hooks to Kate McKinnon: A History of Hillary Clinton Parodies on Saturday Night Live
Have a look at every SNL performer who has portrayed Hillary Clinton
The show has been getting laughs out of her for more than 20 years, as she transformed from first lady to senator to secretary of state to presidential hopeful. Should she win the 2016 election, we’ll see impersonations of her on the show through 2020. Few notables can boast having consistently been in the public eye long enough to warrant this much mockery.
Most recently, Kate McKinnon put on Clinton’s sensible pantsuit and brought the same wackadoo energy to the portrayal as she brings to many of her characters.
McKinnon’s take on Clinton is loony, power-hungry and usually sporting a facial expression that falls somewhere between a smile and a grimace. That’s a change from how previous SNL players interpreted Clinton. Here’s a look at everyone who has played her.
Though Hooks left the cast in 1991, she made repeat guest appearances to portray Clinton, first appearing on Sept. 26, 1992, roughly a month before Bill Clinton was elected president. The above sketch is Clinton’s SNL debut.
Hooks plays Hillary as superficially sweet but deep-down fierce. A key line: “Go ahead! Don’t vote for him!” she shouts at someone who accuses her of being difficult. “I’ll be fine! I have a job! I’m a lawyer!” In a later Hooks sketch, Hillary calls herself "the co-president of the United States."
Well, the blazer and the hair are spot-on. Garofalo was on the show for all of five months, during what we euphemistically refer to as a “transitional period.” There’s not a whole lot to her take on Hillary aside from arm-crossing dismay at Bill’s extracurriculars. But hold on: Lewinskygate would soon be upon us.
Along with Molly Shannon and Cheri Oteri, Gasteyer formed a power team of SNL leading ladies. But because she played Hillary during the Lewinsky years, most of her take involved the first lLady seeming icy and full of contempt for Bill. For what it’s worth, Gasteyer also played Hillary during her burgeoning political career, and finally got to have more fun with the character trying to pass herself off as a relatable, electable candidate.
The Golden Age! Poehler plays Clinton as strong, determined and absolutely furious that she’s not already president. Poehler impersonated Hillary longer than any other performer on the show, but this one sketch gets to the heart of her take on the character. (Fast-foward to 3:28 to hear Poehler shout, “Noooo! MINE!” It’s perfect.) The fact that she gets to play off Tina Fey‘s Sarah Palin just makes it all the better.
Bayer, who’s currently the longest-tenured female SNL performer, played Hillary a few times before McKinnon took over the role. While Bayer’s Miley may have helped make her a fan favorite, she approaches Hillary with a considerably lighter touch. Her sniping with Sasheer Zamata, in her debut as Michelle Obama, strikes a chord, however.
Yes, this happened. In one sketch, Hillary was played by Bayer, McKinnon, Noël Wells and Cyrus. None of them are particularly rooted in any sort of realism but yes, Miley Cyrus as Hillary Clinton. This happened. (BTW, the real star in this sketch is actually Nasim Pedrad’s pitch-perfect Arianna Huffington.)
It’s become a tradition on the show to have impersonated people confront their SNL selves, and in 2008, Hilllary did just that. The combo of Poehler’s Hillary laugh and Real Hillary’s question “Do I really laugh like that?” makes for the kind of magic you only see on SNL.