"Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels has always loved getting people on his legendary sketch comedy program that are being talked about at the time. He famously brought the late George Harrison onto the show to offer him a comically small check to reunite The Beatles. He's also had several politicians on the show during campaigns, such as Sarah Palin, John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. According to The New York Times, Michaels has extended the same invitation to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Apparently Romney and his team are considering the appearance. When asked why Romney, Jim Downey, a writer on the show for years, said, "He was funny on Letterman, giving the Top Ten list. Typically visiting politicians on the show are treated with kid gloves, with usually a friendly ribbing or two in mostly benign material that usually plays on the public persona of the politician in question, so that might explain why politicians on every side of the political spectrum have appeared on the show.
Of course, usually it's up to the cast members to play the roles of any politician in office, and sometimes those impressions become so popular that they become part of the cultural zeitgeist. Here now are a few of the more notable "SNL" political impressions.
Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford - Though his impression pretty much only consisted of playing on President Ford's propensity for falls, bumps and trips, Chase was the first cast member to use a political figure as a regular character on the show. Many times the sketches featuring Chevy as Ford were used in the show's cold open, where he'd fall at the end and intone the now iconic "Live from New York..." tagline that has opened every show.
Dana Carvey as George H.W. Bush - The first President Bush served his term while a master impressionist was on the show. Carvey had been doing his eclectic group of characters and impressions for a couple years when Bush was elected, and he made quick work of building up an impression so ubiquitous that when people impersonate him now, they're usually just impersonating Carvey's caricature, borrowing his catch phrases like "Not gonna do it."
Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton - He only was on the show for the majority of Clinton's first term, but the late, great Hartman was the first member of the "SNL" cast to take on the grey-haired former Arkansas governor in an impression. Hartman keyed in on Clinton's mannerisms and gravely voice, painting a comical picture of the President. After he left the show, veteran cast member Darrel Hammond took over the Clinton duties.
Will Ferrell as George W. Bush - It's one thing to do a political impression on "Saturday Night Live," and it's another to take that impression to Broadway and win a Tony award. That's precisely what Ferrell did with his impression of the second Bush to hold the highest office in the land. Then he took that show and made it into an HBO comedy special. "Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America - A Final Night with George W Bush" was a big hit for the network and it helped cement Ferrell as one of the biggest comedic performers today.
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