'SNL' should test Trump, but how about challenging a Dem for once?
© Getty

“Saturday Night Live” is enjoying the kind of ratings boost that brings to mind the show’s halcyon days.

On paper, that is.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yes, the NBC sketch show’s wall-to-wall Trump bashing has been good for business, but what about the brand? That’s taken a sizable hit and, as a long-time “SNL” fan, I doubt it will recover.

 

A show once known for its “take no prisoners” approach is now hopelessly liberal, like roughly 98 percent of current comedy institutions.

That’s not edgy. That’s groupthink at its most insufferable.

During the Clinton years, “SNL” standout Darrell Hammond hit the Commander in Chief with everything he had. Will Ferrell hammered President George W. Bush.

Can anyone remember one killer skit poking fun of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaRahm Emanuel: Sanders is 'stoppable' 5 takeaways from the Nevada caucuses Ex-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community MORE? It’s hard to forget, though, the show’s final sketch that name checked Obama. Cast members Sasheer Zamata and Cecily Strong serenaded the soon-to-be ex-president with “To Sir, with Love.”

That sound you hear is John Belushi spinning in his grave.

It’s the kind of bald propaganda you’d expect to find in North Korea, not the nation’s most irreverent comedy showcase.

The new “SNL” math is clear. If the politician has a “D” next to his or her name, the jokes are either more measured or nonexistent. If the letter is an “R,” it’s game on. And in the Age of Trump does anyone think that will change?

Every new “SNL” show starts with a “cold open” slamming some aspect of the Trump administration. It might be Trump himself, expertly played by Alec Baldwin. Or Trump spokesman Sean Spicer rages across the screen in the form of Melissa McCarthy.

These comic assaults aren’t simple satire. They’re often mean spirited, and they target anyone in the Trump inner circle. Ferrell’s Dubya may have been withering, but it was rarely cruel.

Heck, do you think liberals might complain if “SNL” depicted David Axelrod as Death, like they’ve done with Steve Bannon?

The show recently featured Trump strategist Kellyanne Conway as the deranged Glenn Close character from “Fatal Attraction.” Has the show ever portrayed a female Obama official in such a fashion? If so, would the National Organization for Women (NOW) remain silent?

None of this means Trump shouldn’t be the butt of “SNL” jokes. He might be the juiciest target for any comedy show to consider. It’s like he sprang to life in a lab dedicated to creating mockable politicians.

So why is “SNL” ignoring so many other ripe targets? What about reporters hyperventilating over every fresh Trump proclamation? What about the campus radicals denying free speech at UC Berkeley while decrying fascism?

The rush to slap a “cultural appropriation” label on every other fad should be serially mocked by “SNL” scribes. The “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” of yore would have shredded today’s Social Justice Warriors. And, even better, made us howl in the process.

Have we forgotten that select universities passed out coloring books to help students process Trump’s election?

Some skits write themselves. Yet “SNL” won’t go near them.

“SNL” used to crank out killer celebrity impressions. The Celebrity Jeopardy sketches may be the show’s finest running gag.

So why not poke fun at all those celebrity “get out the vote” PSAs? The stern messaging. The repetitive phrasing. The “look, I didn’t put on my celebrity makeup” virtue signaling.

Heck, it took conservative scribes to brilliantly do the trick, embarrassing “SNL” in the process.

Meryl Streep’s hysterical rant at the Golden Globes last month should have fueled a delirious sketch or two, particularly when she targeted football.

Football?

It’s hard to escape “SNL” these days. Every sketch is shared not just by your Bernie SandersBernie SandersSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Buttigieg campaign claims 'irregularities' in Nevada caucuses Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden MORE-loving uncle but by mainstream reporters. Is it really news when Team “SNL” uncorks its 19th Trump sketch of the new year? It’s the ultimate dog bites man story now, but that’s not stopping reporters from treating every bit like a new executive order.

Liberal media bias is real, but that’s an opinion piece for another day.

What’s crystal clear now, though, is that “SNL” has written off attracting right-of-center viewers. That’s roughly half the country, hardly a sound business strategy.

The show started alienating red states with alacrity last year. One sketch insisted Trump voters, not merely Trump himself, were racist.

Comedians should hold politicians’ feet to the fire. It’s a long-standing, and healthy, tradition we hold dear.

So where were all the “SNL” sketches slamming Obama for his health care lies? What about the IRS targeting conservative groups? Dare we mention the 2012 Benghazi attack, which Obama officials initially blamed on a YouTube video?

“SNL” now wants to hold Trump’s feet to the fire, and that’s valuable. But the show has burned its reputation as a fair comedy institution to the ground.

Christian Toto is the editor of HollywoodInToto.com and host of the Hollywood in Toto Podcast.


The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.