Tina Fey returns to SNL season finale, playing Sarah Palin with a cast of Trump lackeys

Since I saw the first season in graduate school (was it really 43 years ago?) Saturday Night Live has become a mere shadow of its former self. But it would be impossible to replace that first cast, which included Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Chevy Chase. Still, there are moments of great humor, usually when former cast members return. One of those is Tina Fey, who came on at the end of last night’s season finale. As the New York Times reported on the 5½-minute sketch:

“It’s me, the ghost of Sarah Palin,” Fey said as if speaking to Palin’s fans, before clarifying that she was just kidding. “I’m still alive,” she said. “But you had to think about it, didn’t ya?” Clad in a leather motorcycle jacket, Fey explained, “One minute you’re on top, and then you’re gone in the blink of a Scaramucci.” Then she sang a few bars of “What I Did for Love,” from the musical “A Chorus Line.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played by Aidy Bryant, soon popped in to puzzle over her relatively lengthy tenure as White House press secretary. Speculating on what the future would hold for her, she put her own spin on “What I Did for Love”: “Kiss White House goodbye, and point me toward Fox News,” Bryant sang. “I did what he said to do, and I might regret what I did for Trump.”

Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon), Stormy Daniels (Cecily Strong) and Omarosa Manigault Newman (Leslie Jones) took their turns recounting what they had done for — or, in the case of Daniels, “with” — President Trump. Fred Armisen, the “S.N.L.” alum and “Portlandia” star, joined the production number as Michael Wolff, the White House reporter behind the book “Fire and Fury.” His verse included the line, “The truth was mine to borrow.”

The sketch’s other surprise guest was Goodman, who delivered an impression of Trump’s former secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. “I’m the only man ever to go into a situation scathed and come out unscathed,” he joked. “Trump was the biggest mess I’ve ever dealt with, and I worked for Exxon Mobil.”

This is pretty funny, but the humor is a bit heavy-handed, and comes nowhere near the great political bits of yore, including Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, Dana Carvey as George Bush, Sr., and Dan Akroyd as Jimmy Carter (remember when faux-Carter tried to talk someone down who was on an acid trip?) I don’t watch the show any more: now that I’m older, I need an earlier bedtime. But the bits I have seen on YouTube (supposedly the funniest bits) suggest that the show should be retired. Who watches it—younger folk, or we oldsters, hoping to recapture some of the glory of those first seasons?

26 Comments

  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The absurdities of the Trump era may have rendered satire and irony too subtle for our times, but it’s been a boon for broad farce and mocking impression.

  2. yazikus
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I haven’t watched this yet, but was pleasantly surprised to notice when kiddo was watching Dino Hunters: Canada that it is narrated by Akroyd. Seems like a fun show, with lots of science.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Dan Aykroyd seems to be a likeable & interesting guy, if somewhat uncritical or ill informed, like many showbizzers, regarding reality – the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry awarded him their Snuffed Candle Award 20 years ago for that show he hosted – Psi Factor. [but might have been a tongue in cheek show, I’ve never seen it]

      Also a spiritualist:

      “I am a Spiritualist, a proud wearer of the Spiritualist badge. Mediums and psychic research have gone on for many, many years …. Loads of people have seen spirits, heard a voice or felt the cold temperature. I believe that they are between here and there, that they exist between the fourth and fifth dimension, and that they visit us frequently”

      wiki

      I didn’t realise until now that Ghostbusters, was from his own head – “inspired by his fascination with parapsychology” [acc. to Wiki anyway]

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like a disaster of biblical proportions … Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! … Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes … The dead rising from the grave! … Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

        I just read his wiki and, wow, the man is deep into Spiritualism; it’s in his lineage.

  3. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    A moderately distant second best cast was the one from 87-94 with Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Chris Rock etc..

    They were not nearly as across-the-board universally talented as the original one, but Carvey and Myers certainly gave Ackroyd and Belushi a run for their money.

    The two teams were the only SNL ones to make successful films from their SNL characters: “The Blues Brothers” (Ackroyd and Belushi) and “Wayne’s World” (Myers and Carvey).

    Nonetheless, my favorite SNL sketch ever is from Season 1- the fake ad for the “Norman Bates School for Motel Management” with Anthony Perkins.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      There was also the succès d’estime of It’s Pat. (I kid! 🙂 )

  4. Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    The most poignant sketch from the early days is the one where old Belushi walks among the tombstones of other cast members.

    The funniest bit ever was the original cast’s take on Citizen Kane.

  5. Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    SNL fans might appreciate segments of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” on Netflix. As the name says, these are 20-minute shows in which he calls some comedian on a weekend morning and says, “Let’s go get some coffee!”. He picks the comedian up in some special car (famous sports cars, muscle cars, etc.) and they go to some diner or coffee shop, chatting all the way. Episodes feature several SNL regulars, including Tina Fey, Steve Martin, and Lorne Michaels. There are 60 episodes but many of them are interesting. I especially liked the one with Barack Obama.

    • Mark R.
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Obama’s was downright awesome. When driving that ‘63 Vette he oozed coolness. What charisma he has. Save us Barack!!!

      • Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        I agree. Obama should suggest that he could save the country if Congress would simply amend the Constitution to allow him to run again. Obviously it would go nowhere but it would be lots of fun nonetheless. The heads of the racist right would explode in unison.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        I LMAO’d when Seinfeld came up to the big bay window behind the Resolute desk in The Oval, knocked on the window, and gave Barack the hey-hurry-up-I’m-waiting-out-here signal. 🙂

        • Mark R.
          Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, the set-up was absolutely LMAO material.

  6. Larry Smith
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    I agree that the SNL political bits are now usually very heavy-handed, and grow tiresome quickly.

    On the plus side, Weekend Update is still good for a couple of funny jokes/laughs, and there are usually one or two good skits per show. The episodes of “Black Jeopardy” are usually pretty good, for example, and they include a dose of worthwhile sociological observations to boot.

    Finally – and this may be considered heresy – but I don’t think that the original SNL shows were as consistently funny as many of us would like to remember. There were certainly moments of brilliance, and those are the bits we recall fondly. But if you look at any show from the first couple of years I suspect that their “laugh quotient” wouldn’t be all that much better than it is today.

    • Posted May 20, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      And now… with women!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I think a lot of the fondness is because there’d never been anything like it on tv before. The first bit ever screened — with Rich Pryor and Chevy Chase doing psy word-association — set the tone (and would be way too politically incorrect to be aired on network tv today).

      • Pablo
        Posted May 21, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        SNL has always, including from Season 1, had about 45 minutes of quality material stretched into a 90 minute show.

        • Pablo
          Posted May 21, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

          Sorry, this was meant to reply to Larry Smith above, although I do agree w/Ken K. about the novelty.

  7. mirandaga
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Can’t believe the thread has gotten this far without any mention of Bill Murray.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Or Mister Bill. Ooh!

  8. ladyatheist
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I dunno, portraying Gerald Ford as an accident-prone bumbling fool got old pretty fast. We don’t remember the misses, only the hits!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      I got a kick out of it when all the ghosts of SNL presidents past came to visit Barack.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 21, 2018 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        Good 1.

  9. busterggi
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    Anyone else out there also a fan of the National Lampoon Radio Hour from the early ’70’s? That was SNL w/o pictures.

  10. Formicidae
    Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    I mostly agree with SNL lost glory, but yesterday’s sketch was on point with the “mob” picture of the Trump administration. Great references to “The Sopranos” and “Godfather”. Would say that sometimes they manage to build a funny narrative.

    • Formicidae
      Posted May 20, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      Worth watching it:


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