Saturday Night Live: Comedy from controversy

Cindy Liu , Staff Writer

In the eyes of most teenagers, “Saturday Night Live” was seen as nothing more than a late-night comedy for adults. At least until last year’s presidential election heated up.

Now, with a viewership of 10.6 million in its 42nd season–the show’s most watched season in over 20 years–younger audiences are a big part of its return to popularity. And it’s all thanks to the recent presidential election parody skits featuring Alec Baldwin as President Donald Trump, Kate McKinnon as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Melissa McCarthy as Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

With Baldwin dressed in an expensive suit and orange wig making caricatures out of Trump’s iconic hand gestures and speech, “SNL” grabbed the attention of a younger generation that looked to find comedic relief in Trump’s actions throughout the election. For the legendary NBC show, it’s a return to its roots; when it started in the 1970s it was a favorite among high school and college students.

Diamond Bar High School sophomore Hailie Nash started watching “SNL” a year ago and enjoyed the new changes to the show.

“I think what made this show succeed is how they pulled in more comedians, bigger actresses and actors to come in and interview,” Nash said. “And I think it’s how everything’s going crazy from 2016 because people needed comic relief; they needed something to see that’s funny.”

With celebrity hosts like Emma Stone and Lin-Manuel Miranda and popular musical guests like Ed Sheeran and Twenty One Pilots, the show’s ratings have reflected the popularity of those starring in the show.

Junior Pilar Alcazar watched “SNL” starting when she was little. Although she isn’t an avid follower of the show, she noticed clips of the show’s political parodies and character sketches that gained attention on social media.

“Politics are such a hot topic right now,” Alcazar said. “There’s a lot of debate about different politicians so it’s really popular to talk about.”

While some of the parodied politicians like Spicer responded to “SNL’s” character sketches favorably, the show’s satires are not lost on Trump. On Twitter, the president tweeted back his thoughts; his comment “[SNL is] totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can’t get any worse” has received 27,913 retweets and 115,181 likes.

Despite Trump’s negative comments, millions of viewers have shown their approval of SNL’s comedic takes on the political situation as its popularity grows.

“[‘SNL’] shows that you can enjoy yourself and you can be serious but have some fun and see the light in it,” Nash said. “That’s what seems to be with all their skits: they take something serious and they make it light.”