No matter what side of the political spectrum one happens to fall on, it’s hard to deny the fact that politics and the world of pop culture seem to become more intertwined by the day. One place where that has basically always been the case is NBC’s sketch comedy institution Saturday Night Live. Impersonations of political figures from both major parties have long-been a staple of the program, with sitting presidents especially ending up as targets of the show’s satirical focus.
SNL has played host to multiple memorable presidential impersonations over the 40-plus years it’s been on the air, ranging all the way from Chevy Chase’s Gerald Ford to Darrell Hammond’s Bill Clinton. Sometimes a presidential impersonation becomes so popular that it even starts to usurp the personality of the actual person among the general public, as happened with both Dana Carvey’s George H.W. Bush and Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush. In more recent times, the lead political impressions on SNL have been Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton, and Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump.
While McKinnon’s Clinton has understandably hit the back burner following last November’s election, with Trump now POTUS, Baldwin’s send-up of him has become a bigger and bigger fixture of SNL’s weekly sketches. This is to be expected, as not only is Trump now the leader of the free world, he’s also a long-time pop culture celebrity, having hosted long-running reality series The Apprentice and appeared as himself in multiple movies and TV shows. With that in mind, THR reports that with President Donald Trump opting out of the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, many are now calling for Baldwin to stand in for him, in character.
.@realDonaldTrump I hope they replace you with Alec Baldwin.— Dan Wilbur (@DanWilbur) February 25, 2017
Trump’s decision to not attend the Correspondents’ Dinner – a night where comedians and the president himself usually engage in lighthearted verbal jabbing at both the media and themselves – is all-but unprecedented. The last U.S. president to not attend a WHCD event in person was Ronald Reagan back in 1981, and that was because he was still recovering from an attempted assassination. Considering the sudden and unexpected nature of Trump’s non-appearance, it’s understandable that some would try and suggest a comparable replacement guest.
That said, Trump has made his feelings concerning Baldwin’s comedic SNL characterization quite clear, and Baldwin being tapped to appear at the WHCD – especially in character as Trump – would likely not sit well with the commander-in-chief. For his part, Baldwin has yet to respond to the calls that he step in.
Saturday Night Live returns to NBC on March 4, with host Octavia Spencer.