“Saturday Night Live,” which has its season premiere on Saturday, will almost surely feature a riff on this week’s presidential debate.
Earlier this week, the show announced that Alec Baldwin would be playing Donald Trump, with Kate McKinnon portraying Hillary Clinton.
On the latest “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel, Jon Macks, writer for all 22 seasons of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” says that “to me the question is when you are going in to write a sketch like this is, ‘Are you trying to just be funny? Or are you trying to make an underlying political point?'”
“If you are trying to make an underlying political point, and this is me wearing my old hat as a political consultant, I would focus on Donald saying, ‘I don’t pay taxes.’ That’s a smart thing to do. And basically being proud of the housing crisis in 2007 and 2008,” he says. “But in terms of comedy, you have to go a little bit broader, and to me it would be the physical characteristics. Donald repeating his phrases, Hillary’s odd smile.”
He notes that McKinnon has played Clinton as “wild eyed” and would expect that she would be shown on “SNL” with “a little bit of a shimmy, and that odd smile she has when she is being attacked, which is a little strange. And you are going to see Donald with the adjusting of the microphone, the pursed lips, the sniffing, whatever is going on there.” He also think there are possibilities in having Clinton do a list of possible things in Trump’s tax returns, while he comes back with what are in her deleted emails.
The challenge, especially in portraying Trump, is to avoid the obvious — “the odd hair color, a big bloated guy. It is way too easy to go to that. That is the easy joke. That is the layup in basketball terms. What you want to do is really do it in a way that makes people think. And that is, I think, what gives people lasting impressions.”
The show has had a history of reinforcing impressions of the candidates, particularly at the debates, like Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in 2008, and Darrell Hammond as Al Gore in 2000. Macks is the author of “Monologue: What Makes America Laugh Before Bed.”
Marc Levin talks about his documentary “Class Divide,” debuting on HBO on Monday, which takes a look at the extremes of gentrification — a corner in the West Chelsea neighborhood of New York where the elite school Avenues is just across the street from a major public housing project. The neighborhood — where Levin has worked for decades — has experienced tremendous socio-economic change, in part due to the opening of the public walkway the High Line.
Movements Out of Movies
Christie Marchese, founder and CEO of Picture Motion, and Wendy Cohen, president, Los Angeles, talk about their company Picture Motion, which creates social impact campaigns for documentaries and narrative movies. Among them is Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming climate change movie “Before the Flood.” They say that while it can be challenging to break through in the noise of an election year, there are plenty of recent examples of movies leading to meaningful change.
The Miss Universe Factor
Brent Roske of “Roske on Politics” and Alexander Heffner of “The Open Mind” on PBS talk about why Donald Trump’s feud with a former Miss Universe actually strikes a chord with the electorate. They also look forward to the next presidential debate on Oct. 9.
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.