Emmy Winning Kate

(Pictured above: Kate McKinnon accepting the Emmy. Source: YouTube screenshot)

(Editors’ note: This Sunday Kate McKinnon won the best supporting actress Emmy in a comedy series for her work last season on Saturday Night LiveThe Savvy Screener is republishing this article, by Charlie Greenberg, originally titled ‘SNL’s Brilliant Kate,’ which reviews the work that won her TV’s highest honor.)

Saturday Night Live finished the 2016-17 season with “unprecedented ratings,” driven in no small measure by the show’s sharp-witted response to the Trump phenomena – and the comedic versatility of Kate McKinnon.

While McKinnon’s pluperfect people-parodies have long been an SNL staple, her performance this season was an outstanding blend of personas that not only satisfied audience expectations, but brilliantly pushed the envelope in unexpected ways. Here are a few of my favorites for streaming laughs:

Hillary Clinton

We won’t forget Amy Poehler, but McKinnon now owns Hillary, and  — at least for a moment — SNL writers made it seem that McKinnon’s wily Hillary owned Alec Baldwin’s clueless Trump.

Jeff Sessions

A gender-bending Jeff Sessions channeling Forrest Gump was certainly unexpected and pointed satire, playing off Session’s confusing Russian responses during his AG nomination hearings. Perhaps McKinnon’s uncanny imitation was inspired by Melissa McCarthy’s pants-roll as Sean Spicer.

Watch as Trump meets Gump:

Mika Brzezinski

SNL performed a repeating bit lampooning the morning Fox News show, Fox & Friends. Presenting the three regular hosts as guileless airheads, each SNL F&F episode concluded with a seemingly endless scroll of corrections from fact-checkers.


But Fox and Friends‘ direct competitor, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, miraculously escaped the notice of SNL writers. This, despite the ripe-for-satire banter of cross-talking hosts — conservative Joe Scarborough and “liberal” Mika Brzezinski. SNL even looked the other way as candidate Trump habitually called into Morning Joe to luxuriate in his own self-congratulatory brand of trumped-up self-aggrandizement.

Then came Mika’s and Joe’s unexpected engagement. That, as it turned out, was just too good for SNL to pass-up. You can enjoy McKinnon as Brzezinski and fellow cast member Alex Moffat (pictured above) as Scarborough at NBC’s SNL site.

Kellyanne Conway meets Fatal Attraction

Trump’s super surrogate, Kellyanne Conway, can really take a hit. At first McKinnon’s Kellyanne send-ups were sympathetic, depicting her as almost regretting her tireless, if often mindless, unmitigated devotion to our current president.

But soon the bloom was off Kellyanne’s very thorny, rose-colored glasses, as the media became critical of her incredulous dissembling and “alternate facts.” It was about this time that Jake Tapper of CNN (SNL’s Beck Bennet) decided to ban Kellyanne from his show, The Lead.

Hilary Clinton performs Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

Songwriter Leonard Cohen died on November 7, Hillary Clinton lost the election November 8 — an emotional week for many. That Saturday night, SNL showed its hand with McKinnon’s unexpected tribute to both:



About Charlie Greenberg

Charlie Greenberg is a NY-based theater and instrumental composer.

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