Saturday Night Live parodies of Donald Trump

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Taran Killam (left) and Darrell Hammond (right), respectively, portray Donald Trump while the real Donald Trump (middle) hosted Saturday Night Live on November 7, 2015

The sketch comedy television series Saturday Night Live (SNL) has parodied Donald Trump since 1988, from his time as a real estate broker, to his popular run as host of The Apprentice, and ultimately during his presidency.

To date, Trump has been portrayed by five SNL performers: Phil Hartman, Darrell Hammond, Jason Sudeikis, Taran Killam, and Alec Baldwin. Darrell Hammond has portrayed him the longest, originally while in the cast in the late 1990s, and then reprising the role in a series of cameos in 2016. The other cast-members held the role briefly, with five appearances by Hartman, three by Killam, and only one by Sudeikis.[1] Since October 2016, the role has been played by Alec Baldwin, who has made many appearances on the series through its run.

SNL has frequently paired parodies of Trump with impressions of his wives and children or, since he took office, various staff-members. Trump has hosted the show twice, in 2004 and 2015, the latter time as a candidate.

Hartman parodies (1988–1990)[edit]

Cast member Phil Hartman was the show's first portrayer of Donald Trump, from 1988 until 1990. Hartman portrayed Trump five times,[2] and was paired with Jan Hooks as Trump's then-wife Ivana Trump or, in one case, Marla Maples, Trump's second-wife-to-be.[3][4]

The first sketch, from December 1988, shows Donald and Ivana celebrating Christmas, giving large, gold and jewel-encrusted presents to each other.[4]

Trump is seen in the audience at the Saturday Night Live 15th Anniversary Special from 1989, where Chevy Chase spills popcorn on him.[5]

A sketch from February 1990 parodies the Ivana Trump divorce. Ivana demands more money since Donald has been unfaithful, but he refutes this by referring to their extensive prenuptial agreement. It states, among other things, that he is entitled to have mistresses provided they are younger than she is, and that she will be paid in giant stonecoins.[4]

The next episode had Marla Maples and Trump appearing on Church Chat. The couple are referred to as a "satanic sandwich", and the sketch shows press coverage of their relationship, including a "Best Sex I've Ever Had" headline.[4]

Hammond parodies (1999–2011, 2015–2016)[edit]

Hartman did not do more Trump-sketches after 1990, and Darrell Hammond's first two portrayals came in 1999.[6] The first sketch had Ross Perot (Cheri Oteri) searching for "a new crazy leader" for the Reform Party, with Trump and Pat Buchanan (Chris Parnell) as possible candidates. Their meeting is crashed by a violent Jesse Ventura (Will Ferrell). In the second sketch Trump announces that he is running for president and tells the audience, "Eh, don't try to fight it. Alright?" He also introduces his running mate, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? winner John Carpenter.

Hammond resumed playing Trump in 2004, doing so a total of 16 times up to 2011, although he left the cast in 2009.[7] His parodies focused on Trump's interest and involvement with politics, commercials, and his appearances on The Apprentice. Trump hosted the show in April 2004, praising Hammond in his opening monologue, and appeared in a sketch next to Hammond's Trump.

An early 2005 episode introduced Trump's third wife, Melania (Paris Hilton). Trump brings her home to let his children, Eric Trump (Fred Armisen), Donald Trump Jr. (Seth Meyers), and Ivanka Trump (Maya Rudolph), "meet their new mommy". Melania would be portrayed later by Molly Shannon and, from 2015 and onward (without Hammond), by Cecily Strong.[8][6]

Hammond is the show's longest running Trump impersonator. He played the role for ten years in the cast, 1999 to 2009, and reprised it twice in 2011. In the 2011 sketches Trump involves himself in the upcoming Republican Party presidential primaries and questions President Obama's birth certificate.

After returning to serve as the show's announcer in 2014, he began reprising his role as Trump regularly, beginning in December 2015. Due to the wide field of GOP candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the show needed at least one cameo appearance to cover all of the candidates. Taran Killam, who at this point had begun playing Trump, switched to portraying Ted Cruz. SNL had asked alumnus Jimmy Fallon (who had portrayed Trump on his own show) to play the part.[9] When a last minute change prevented this, Hammond returned to the role. Cecily Strong, who had portrayed Melania opposite Killam's Trump, continued in this role alongside Hammond.[8]

Hammond subsequently appeared as Trump in seven more episodes of the season. His appearance in the role was critically acclaimed,[10] but some outlets reported that the role should be moved to a permanent cast member at some point.[11]

Sudeikis parody (2012)[edit]

Jason Sudeikis appeared in the role once, during a Fox & Friends parody.[12] Sudeikis' Trump comments on Barack Obama's handling of Hurricane Sandy.

Killam parodies (2015)[edit]

It was announced prior to the show's forty-first season that Taran Killam would be taking over the role for the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Reportedly, several cast members had auditioned for the role.[13]

Killam's Trump debuted on the October 2015 sketch "A Message From Donald & Melania Trump", which also introduced Cecily Strong as Melania Trump. The message is sent from "our humble gold house", and Donald presents himself as "the man who's almost certainly your next president". The couple praise Donald's qualities as a person and a politician, although he becomes uncomfortable when she claims that he "was Democrat before he was Republican".[14] The duo reprised the setup and characters in December, wishing viewers a Merry Christmas and presenting a "Naughty and Nice" list. Donald placed Santa on the "naughty" list since he doesn't trust anybody who can fly over a wall.[15]

Donald Trump hosted SNL a second time in November 2015, and Killam and Hammond appeared during the opening monologue alongside him.[16] Since Trump was running for president, his appearance triggered the equal-time rule, so his opponents received free air time on NBC affiliate stations.[17] Trump appeared in a sketch portraying him as an incredibly successful president in 2018. Cecily Strong parodied Melania, and Trump's daughter Ivanka appeared in a cameo.[18] Trump ends the sketch by telling the audience that his actual presidency would be even better. Trump is one of 17 presidential candidates who have appeared on Saturday Night Live, and the only American President to have hosted the show.[19] Killam later expressed regret and shame for what he referred to as "normalizing" Trump's candidacy.[20]

For the December 19, 2015 episode (co-hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler), SNL lacked enough cast members to portray all of the GOP candidates in a debate sketch. As a result, Jimmy Fallon was asked to return in the role of Trump (which he had played many times on The Tonight Show) so that Killam could portray Ted Cruz instead. Ultimately, that plan fell through at the last minute, and instead, Hammond played Trump in the debate.

Hammond continued to play Trump for the remainder of the season. Killam's contract was terminated early after that season, with some news sources alleging that being replaced as Trump was part of the reason.[21]

Baldwin parodies (2016–present)[edit]

In September 2016, SNL announced that Alec Baldwin would replace Hammond in portraying Trump in its parodies of the 2016 presidential debates. Hammond had not expected this, and was very shaken by the replacement.[22] Baldwin has continued portraying Trump in 2017.[23][24] Unlike his predecessors, he has never been a cast-member, but as of February 2017 he has hosted the show 17 times, more than anyone else.[25] Baldwin received a Critics' Choice Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for his portrayal of Trump.[26]

Before election[edit]

Baldwin's Trump debuted in the October 1, 2016 episode, opposite Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and Michael Che as debate moderator Lester Holt.[27] The sketch was based on the first presidential debate between Clinton and Trump. The episode also included impressions of members of Trump's family in a parody of the game show Family Feud.[28]

Further sketches with Baldwin included elements of the other presidential debates, the vice presidential debate, and the Donald Trump and Billy Bush recording controversy.[29]

The October 15 episode featured a parody of the third presidential debate.[30] Later in the episode, Baldwin and Cecily Strong appeared as Donald and Melania Trump, in a parody of Beyoncé's Lemonade. Host Emily Blunt portrayed Ivanka Trump, and Vanessa Bayer appeared as Trump's youngest daughter Tiffany Trump.

Trump reacted negatively to this episode on Twitter, saying that Baldwin's portrayal "stinks", and that it was "time to retire the boring and unfunny show."[31][32]

After election[edit]

Post-election sketches have included Baldwin's Trump meeting with people such as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mitt Romney, and Vladimir Putin, with humor drawn from the 2016 United States election interference by Russia. In February, it was reported that the show has had strong viewer ratings since the election.[33]

Several people who work closely with Trump have been frequently parodied. These include Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon),[34] White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon (Mikey Day) with a Grim Reaper-like appearance,[35] White House Press Secretaries Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy),[36][37] and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant),[38] and United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon).[39][40] Vice President Mike Pence is portrayed by Beck Bennett,[41] and Trump's sons Eric and Donald Jr by Alex Moffat and Mikey Day.[42] Elder daughter Ivanka Trump has also been featured, as portrayed by Scarlett Johansson.[43]

Trump tweeted his displeasure with the show in November, December, and January, saying "Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse." and "NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!".[26][44]

In January 2017, SNL writer Katie Rich was suspended from the show after she wrote a joking tweet saying that Trump's youngest son, Barron, would become "this country's first home school shooter." The tweet provoked significant outrage, and Rich apologized, calling it "inexcusable".[45][46]

El Nacional, a Dominican newspaper, mistakenly published Baldwin's picture instead of Trump's in February. The paper quickly apologized.[47][48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SNL Archives - Impressions - Donald Trump". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  2. ^ "SNL Archives - Impressions - Donald Trump". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. ^ "SNL Archives - Impressions - Ivana Trump". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "'I'm a Ratings Machine': A History of Donald Trump on SNL". 3 October 2016. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Watch The Donald Trump Sketch That Was Mysteriously Deleted From 2004 SNL Episode". Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  6. ^ a b "'I'm a Ratings Machine': A History of Donald Trump on SNL". 3 October 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  7. ^ "SNL Archives - Impressions - Donald Trump". Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b "SNL Archives - Impressions - Melania Trump". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  9. ^ "SNL Wanted Jimmy Fallon to Take Over Trump From Taran Killam". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  10. ^ Wilstein, Matt (25 January 2016). "Why 'SNL' Can't Quit Darrell Hammond, Its Best Donald Trump Impersonator". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Beck Bennett Should Play Donald Trump When SNL Returns". 21 September 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  12. ^ "SNL Archives - Impressions - Donald Trump". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (20 September 2015). "Taran Killam To Play Donald Trump On 'Saturday Night Live'". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  14. ^ "SNL Archives - Episodes - 10.03.2015 #1". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  15. ^ "SNL Archives - Episodes - 12.05.2015 #1". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  16. ^ "SNL Archives - Episodes - 11.07.2015 #2". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  17. ^ Pallotta, Frank (20 November 2016). "Donald Trump says 'SNL' was 'biased' and asks for 'equal time for us'". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  18. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' Trumps 'The Donald'". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  19. ^ Serico, Chris. Star-spangled laughter: 17 presidential candidates who appeared on 'SNL'. TODAY. 6 November 2015. Web. <> Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  20. ^ Sanders, Sam. "Taran Killam Says 'There Was Never Any Common Ground' When Trump Hosted 'SNL.'" NPR. 17 October 2017. 17 October 2017.
  21. ^ Sims, David. "Why Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah are Leaving 'Saturday Night Live'". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Darrell Hammond was SNL's best Donald Trump – and its best impressionist ever. So what went wrong?".
  23. ^ "Instagram video by Saturday Night Live - SNL • Sep 28, 2016 at 7:46pm UTC". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  24. ^ "SNL Archives - Impressions - Donald Trump". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  25. ^ Pallotta, Frank. "Alec Baldwin returns to host an 'SNL' that he and Trump have made great again".
  26. ^ a b "Donald Trump Slams 'SNL' Again: 'The Worst of NBC'". 15 January 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  27. ^ "'S.N.L.' Begins a New Season With Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump". The New York Times. 2 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  28. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' returns with Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  29. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' Tackles the VP Debate and Donald Trump's Sexism Scandal (Video)". 9 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  30. ^ Gajanan, Mahita. "Watch Saturday Night Live's Take on the Second Presidential Debate". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  31. ^ "Here's the SNL sketch that finally went too far for Donald Trump". Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  32. ^ @realDonaldTrump (16 October 2016). "Watched Saturday Night Live hit job on me.Time to retire the boring and unfunny show. Alec Baldwin portrayal stinks. Media rigging election!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  33. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (5 February 2017). "'Saturday Night Live' Flexes Post-Election Ratings Muscle".
  34. ^ Sims, David. "The Feedback Loop of 'Saturday Night Live' and Donald Trump". Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  35. ^ "Steve Bannon discusses SNL portraying him as the Grim Reaper". 11 September 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  36. ^ "Why Melissa McCarthy Made a Great Sean Spicer". 7 February 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  37. ^ Cupp, S. E. "Sean Spicer has a problem: Melissa McCarthy". Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  38. ^ Blake, Aaron (5 November 2017). "Analysis - SNL gives Sarah Huckabee Sanders the Sean Spicer treatment". Retrieved 23 November 2017 – via
  39. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' Takes Aim at Al Franken, an 'S.N.L.' Alumnus". Retrieved 23 November 2017 – via
  40. ^ "'SNL': Jeff Sessions tells Roy Moore, 'I'm usually the creepiest one in the room'". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  41. ^ "'Saturday Night Live': Alec Baldwin's Trump demands Pence walk out of everything". Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  42. ^ "Eric and Donald Trump Jr. Joined SNL's Weekend Update to Discuss the Mueller Charges". 5 November 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  43. ^ Ross, L. A. "Watch Scarlett Johansson skewer Ivanka Trump in 'SNL' perfume ad". Mashable. Retrieved 2018-12-18.
  44. ^ Roy, Jessica. "Alec Baldwin fires back with some presidential advice after Trump angrily tweets about 'SNL'". Retrieved 25 January 2017 – via LA Times.
  45. ^ "'SNL' writer suspended, apologizes for Barron Trump tweet". Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  46. ^ Yahr, Emily; Yahr, Emily (23 January 2017). "SNL writer suspended for Barron Trump tweet, writes apology: 'It was inexcusable'". Retrieved 26 January 2017 – via
  47. ^ Press, Associated. "Dominican paper apologizes for using Alec Baldwin photo for Donald Trump". Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  48. ^ "Trump or Baldwin? Dominican paper gets it wrong". Retrieved 12 February 2017.