I started watching Saturday Night Live with my parents around 2002. I’d stay up late and watch Will Ferrell impersonate Alec Trebek to host “Celebrity Jeopardy,” and I watched Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake don their best ’70s garb as they channeled their inner Bee Gees on the “Barry Gibb Talk Show.” And once the DVDs of previous seasons started coming out, my parents jumped at the chance to show my brother and me the SNL they grew up with: Dana Carvey’s “Choppin’ Broccoli” and “Church Lady” routines or the Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer “Schweddy Balls” skit.
But right alongside its silly acts making fun of pop culture and media come the acts about political issues and national leaders. Will Ferrell as President George W. Bush and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin are two that stand out in my mind. This week’s feature (Page 6) discusses just how political SNL can get — and how it can have lasting effects.
Bill Horner and Heather Carver, two MU professors, spent years investigating this for their book Saturday Night Live and the 1976 Presidential Election: A New Voice Enters Campaign Politics. They look at the impact the characters played by Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd (as Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, respectively) had on that election and the younger voting demographic.
And if you’re drawing parallels to the SNL and the current administration, you’re not the only one. As the show has continued its political satire, Bill and Heather are working on a new book that looks at Saturday Night Live during the 2016 presidential election.