The Trump Administration has injected a much needed sense of urgency and importance into "SNL." It's a significant change from the low-brow, "viral" humor the writers have been pursuing for the past decade. Going back to its roots, "SNL" is satirizing the powerful and is finally relevant again.
Besides, if the sketch itself doesn't make you laugh, the White House's reaction surely will.
“Alec has gone from funny to mean, and that’s unfortunate,” Spicer responded. “SNL used to be really funny. There’s a streak of meanness now that they’ve crossed over to mean.”
And the resurgence of "SNL" isn't limited to just politics. Remember David S. Pumpkins? The show's writers are hitting their stride in a way they haven't in a long time. Here, David Sims with the Atlantic talks about what makes the David S. Pumpkin sketch so great.
Who is David S. Pumpkins? Why does he have a middle initial? Why is he featured in 73 of the Haunted Elevator’s 100 floors? What do the dancing skeletons have to do with any of this? The sketch was written by SNL’s writer Streeter Seidell and performers Mikey Day and Bobby Moynihan (who played the skeletons), and it’d have been goofily funny without the self-analysis. But once Bennett and McKinnon started asking questions, it felt like one of the standout SNL sketches of the year. “Is he from a local commercial?” McKinnon asked trying to make sense the strange character. “I am so in the weeds with David Pumpkins!” Bennett cried.
However, not everyone thinks the political satire is funny. It might be an important cultural moment, but to some critics, "SNL" lacks subtlety and goes too far. "SNL" is trying too hard to be funny.
Again on the good-idea-gone-too-far front, Kate McKinnon (who played Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Spicer skit) has been funny as Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who, like her boss, has given the show plenty to ridicule. CNN personality Jake Tapper grilled her mercilessly this week, in real life. In the skit Conway broke into Tapper’s apartment (he was played by Beck Bennett), in a “Fatal Attraction”-like segment, and begged and threatened him to put her back on his show. It was kind of funny until she fell out a window, died and reanimated. You can’t go much more over the top than that.
Critics on the right say the show's obsession with making fun of Trump and Republicans is getting old. Sure, Trump's administration is making a lot of waves and there's plenty to talk about. But there's also plenty of ridiculousness from the left to make fun of—"SNL" writers are choosing to ignore it to take cheap shots at Trump instead. Not funny!
Still, the brief dig at Clinton was nothing compared to the show’s treatment of the president-elect. It’s difficult to tell how long “SNL” can keep going on its current tracks. After the election, it was a question as to whether “SNL” would somehow evolve in a post-election world to be a more well-rounded show, using its satire chops to take on all cultural and political sides — or whether the cast and crew would dig their heels into their left-wing political positions and become The Donald Trump Hour. The post-election episodes are proving "SNL" has chosen the latter.