The enduring allure of caustic humor

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By Brett Shaw

brett-e-shaw@uiowa.edu

“Saturday Night Live” has been called “unwatchable,” “not funny,” and “sad” by the leader of the United States. However, I, like many other frequent viewers, believe that the show has consistently outdone itself, acting as a staple for political comedy.

This season of the show has certainly produced a nationwide dialogue, leaving the country wondering what sketches will be written about the constantly unfolding scandals that have increasingly plagued our political discourse.

When Ivanka Trump products received promotion from White House staff, America impatiently waited for the show’s response.

The writers and actors did not disappoint. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (played by the hilarious Melissa McCarthy) showed off his Ivanka bracelet and shoes in an infomercial-like press conference.

“Saturday Night Live” continually hits the mark by producing controversial sketches, drawing the attention of major news networks and of course, President Trump. I believe comedy is best executed when it stirs conversation and provokes audiences.

While many election spoofs created waves, one of my favorite disruptive sketches was season 41’s “God is a Boob Man.” This parody of God’s Not Dead 2 outraged many Christians with its humorous commentary on businesses claiming religious freedom as a means to not serve gay people.

“My clients just need you to say three simple words,” said the villainized attorney representing the homosexual couple. “God. Is. Gay.”

The sketch-comedy show occasionally shifts toward a more serious tone in addition to its typically ridiculous humor.

Following the election of Trump, all eyes were on “Saturday Night Live” as Kate McKinnon reprised her iconic Hillary Clinton role, opening the show with a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” The sketch acknowledged the fear and sorrow that many viewers experienced after the election and created an uncharacteristically touching moment for the show’s fans.

Critics contend the show is liberally biased, and they are absolutely politically correct. Trump is portrayed as a dumb villain, while Hillary is a frustrated workaholic. Some demand the program should be neutral, but comedy has always been political. The show’s comedians have a right to express their views just as many other popular comedians express theirs. Additionally, the large market for liberal comedy gives the show a loyal following from the left.

Famed female comedians have come out of “Saturday Night Live,” such as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but there was a slump following the departure of Kristen Wiig. However, the current season leaps out of the Dark Ages, almost entirely driven by an incredible female cast. Most notable is the Emmy-award-winning McKinnon, whose recurring roles of Kellyanne Conway, Hillary Clinton, Justin Bieber, and more have crowned her the queen of impressions.

Given the increased attention on the show and a particularly divisive political climate, famed actors such as Melissa McCarthy and Alec Baldwin have rushed to portray controversial figureheads.

Baldwin has done a hysterical job with the role of Trump, from his uncanny impression to his stupefied persona. However, one of my favorite sketches of the season is the one in which Leslie Jones, a black woman, tries to convince the producers that she should play Trump when Baldwin leaves.

I, personally, would love that.

“Saturday Night Live” may not be typical binge-watching material, but every episode from the current season can be found on NBC.com. If you are not a comedy nerd like me, each individual sketch is available on the website as well. Be sure to check your news channels and Twitter feeds every Sunday morning to see what sketches are ruffling feathers. Seriously though, look up “God is a Boob Man.”

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