Which politician insisted SNL should pay for their kid's braces? Which SNL impression sent a political figure into therapy? In public, most politicians pretend their Saturday Night Live impressions, which can be downright brutal, don't bother them. Several presidents have even publicly appeared with their SNL doppelgängers, including George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford. But in private, some politicians feel very differently about SNL's attempts to imitate them for laughs.
While most politicians try to laugh off SNL's impressions, some don't handle the satire very well. How do politicians really feel about some of the most popular SNL impressions?
Will Ferrell's impression of George W. Bush was one of the most memorable in SNL history. But what did Bush think of Ferrell's send-up? In 2017, Jimmy Kimmel asked the former president if the impression bothered him. Bush responded, "Not at all."
In fact, Bush found the impression so good that he tried to take credit for part of it. Ferrell made the word "strategery" famous in his impression, and Bush later got into a friendly argument with Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels over whether Bush actually said "strategery" or an SNL writer invented the word.
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Former Attorney General Janet Reno was the subject of one of the most absurd SNL impersonations when Will Ferrell played her on a regular sketch called "Janet Reno's Dance Party" in the late '90s. Reno tried to see the humor in the impression. “I think people are having fun,” she told The Washington Post in 1998. “I thought it was just kind of a spoof of this 6-foot-1 big old girl. I can’t figure out why anybody’s that interested in me.”
Reno even agreed to appear on SNL with Ferrell, both in signature blue dresses. Reno told Ferrell, “I like your dress, Janet.” Ferrell replied, “Thanks Janet, I like yours, too,” before the pair danced together.
In 2012, Jason Sudeikis dropped several "malarkeys" while portraying Vice President Joe Biden on SNL. Biden was such a fan of the sketch that he told everyone watching Good Morning America to check it out.
He said, "I recommend everybody go back and find that Saturday Night Live deal they did. I have to admit I laughed my head off at that guy playing me. He is so good it scared me."
Gerald Ford was president when SNL premiered, so he was the first to figure out how to respond to his impression. Chevy Chase played Ford as a bumbling and clumsy president, a joke that stung. But Ford, aware of the post-Watergate mood in the country, just laughed at the impression in public.
Ford invited Chase to the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in 1976, where the president pretended to fumble silverware and drop it on Chase's lap. Ford even started his remarks with a play on Chase's "Weekend Update" bit, saying, "I'm Gerald Ford, and you're not."