SNL delivers its best season in years

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Jeff Turner
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR

“Saturday Night Live” is eponymous. Very few do not know at least one character. It has however, been commonly agreed upon, that the show hit a slump at the turn of the decade. Many of its more recently successful alumni, performers like Tina Fey, Andy Samberg and Amy Poehler, had parted ways with the show. Creator Lorne Michaels was left with a lot of B-list performers, which can occasionally produce funny content, but rarely anything iconic.

That has changed this year. With the chaos of the 2016 election in full force, SNL has assembled the team and truly delivered. Some of their more magnificent choices include Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, whose spray tan, voice and simplistic verbiage communicate the candidate with aplomb. The makeup work is just incredible too, Baldwin almost looks like one of those antiquated, creepy marionettes.

His performance in the first debate parody is probably among the funnier. When he proceeded to ramble constantly about China and Mexico and interrupted Clinton, played by Kate McKinnon, constantly. Baldwin’s delivery is what sells it, every time he buts in or tries to defend his behavior, he varies between an angry baby and an irrational, horny teenager. He’s got to be a definite look for an Emmy.

McKinnon is in top form as Hillary, watching Trump sabotage himself with childlike glee. Her snarky delivery makes her Hillary look like that kid at the back of class heckling the teacher. Darrell Hammond is kept on as Bill, which is wise. He seems like a puppy most of the time, showing up at the worst time and having Hillary push him away.

This is just SNL’s political material this year, which of course is going to be in top form because of how bizarre this election is. However, plenty of the general skits have been surprisingly strong as well.

Some of this is helped along by bringing in old veterans like Tom Hanks, as well as newcomers like Lin-Manuel Miranda, who soar.

Hanks brings a steady hand to the hosting gig, like an old friend taking the wheel to deliver confident, excellent work and offer up a fun night. Hanks has been a staple of the show and his likability is often cited as a factor of why that is. He, Baldwin, Steve Martin and John Goodman are likely on Michaels’ speed dial.

Miranda offered another strong show. In his monologue, the “Hamilton” star talks about the play’s relevance to the election and cracks jokes on how no one in New York seems to be able to get tickets to a live performance. In his opening musical performance, Miranda raps, but it’s different, the untrained ear cannot detect the rapping. Miranda obviously has a strong grasp on song writing and performance.

In the sketches, he jumps into his roles effortlessly and collaboratively. This is a guy who could become a regular.

Will SNL stay this strong after the election? It’s hard to say, but it hasn’t been this generally solid in a while.

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