A good political impression requires more than just channeling a person’s voice and facial ticks. Comedians have to dig deep to communicate the essence of their subject. But since the Trump Administration came into office, news from the executive branch has kept them gainfully employed.
Weekend Update, which many view as the face of Saturday Night Live, is heading to primetime. Co-anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost return to the desk segment for a weekly half-hour spinoff series Weekend Update: Summer Edition on Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC ahead of SNL’s big return in the fall.
Hopefully stars like McCarthy will swing by to bring back some of their White House characters — and debut some new ones. So with that in mind, TIME has ranked the ten best political impressions to debut on late night in 2017 so far.
11. Jimmy Fallon as Jared Kushner on Saturday Night Live
The distinguished SNL vet played the President’s son-in-law as adorably shy opposite Steve Bannon’s terrifying Grim Reaper (Mikey Day) in the Apprentice-style sketch. There was no denying Fallon looked the part as the decidedly silent senior counselor.
Best moment: Entering the Oval Office to “You’re Unbelievable” in preppy war zone attire.
10. Bill Hader as Anthony Scaramucci on Weekend Update: Summer Edition
People miss Bill Hader’s masterful SNL characters more than they miss “The Mooch,” but fans were glad to see the MVP show up to play a bizarre caricature of the former communications director. Instead of mining the underlying absurdities of Scaramucci’s antics, Hader’s take made the greatest Mooch hits sing with punchlines that hit the mark.
Best Moment: Rattling off the three biggest sacrifices he made, “all to be king of idiot mountain for eleven days.”
9. Mario Cantone as Anthony Scaramucci on The President Show
The Sex and the City actor proved he born to fill Scaramucci’s shoes when he aced the communications director’s hand gestures and ramped up the ferocious factor. In real life, The Mooch’s unfiltered approach to his gig may have gotten him axed after just ten days, but The President Show gave him a memorable sendoff when “Trump” kissed him goodbye.
Best moment: When Anthony Atamanuik’s POTUS and Cantone played a hilarious copycat game.
8. Stephen Colbert’s Alex Jones-like conspiracy theorist persona Tuck Buckford on The Late Show
This year, Colbert ratcheted up his fearless takedown of conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones with a new character named Tuck Buckford — a red-faced macho man with a show called Brain Fight. Colbert’s slightly more extreme take on the extremist personality’s endless shouting had enough pop culture-themed conspiracy theories to keep the audience laughing.
Best moment: Letting the sketch descend into madness as he mocked the Chobani lawsuit by spreading yogurt on his head to keep the Clinton Foundation from reading his mind.
7. Peter Grosz’s Vice President Mike Pence on The President Show
The Veep actor was in top form while making his Pence have calibrated breakdowns. The way he spiced up the most vanilla lines with hints that he’s always had eyes on the presidency made this one a home run.
Best moment: Infiltrating the pride parade to “make America straight again” and having a ball failing at it gave us a delightfully bizarre visual.
6. Scarlett Johansson as Ivanka Trump on Saturday Night Live
Gliding through this eerie fake perfume commercial, Johansson mastered the perpetually smooth First Daughter’s poise. By transporting us into a world of luxury, one full of judgmental glares and gold, the viral sketch made a splash. Admirably, Johansson had to be aloof but not alienating, and she nailed it.
Best moment: When she pursed her lips to apply lipstick in a mirror, only to reveal her dad in the reflection.
5. Diane Kruger’s Kellyanne Conway in Funny Or Die’s The Kellyanne Conway Story
It didn’t happen on late-night TV, but it’s impossible to exclude. Diane Kruger’s impression doesn’t mimic her distinctive voice. But that doesn’t matter. The best way to enjoy this one is to watch her fame-hungry eyes and follow Conway in the fast lane to moral destruction in this damning take.
Best moment: Getting revved up as she feasts on greasy fast food with Chris Meloni’s “Trump” and prepares to wholeheartedly embrace some alternative facts — all “for America.”
4. Maya Rudolph’s Ivanka Trump on Late Night With Seth Meyers
The Saturday Night Live vet is known for her expressive vocal work. After all, singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton was her mom. That’s why, when tackling an Ivanka Trump impression, she didn’t even need a costume to make it work.
Best moment: Channeling the First Daughter’s tone and eyebrow ticks, Rudolph revealed Ivanka’s uncanny ability to talk through her teeth at just above a whisper.
3. Kate McKinnon’s Jeff Sessions on Saturday Night Live
McKinnon has been in character overdrive with Hillary Clinton and Kellyanne Conway since the 2016 election, but her silliest target was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Exaggerating her character’s story-shifting with a spot-on drawl and a curled mouth, she served every line with boyish caught-in-cookie jar charm.
Best moment: When she waltzed her way through political satire packaged as a Forest Gump mashup an said: “Yeah, I had a bad week.”
2. Anthony Atamanuik’s President Donald Trump character on Comedy Central’s The President Show
When the ultra-dedicated Atamanuik unleashed his dark character in a new context with his own late-night show, he had already set a high bar for inspired satire with his Trump v. Bernie tour. But he cleared it every night with impressive vocal work and a cutting exploration of the President’s psyche that skewered the big picture.
Best moment: Throwing a tantrum after his classroom visit for a “Presidential Distraction Photo Op With Cute Kids.”
1. Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer on Saturday Night Live
Every time the Groundlings alum waltzes into a SNL sketch, she reliably gets the biggest laughs. But it was her firm grip on her in-your-face Sean Spicer character that gave viewers the catharsis they needed. With pitbull energy and dagger eyes, she could have raged along on the offensive via motorized podium forever, and we would have kept watching. Spicer resigned from the role that made him a household name in July, but we’ll always have McCarthy’s portrait. It even helped her earn an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series.
Best moment: Water gunning the hell out of some truth seekers.
- Exclusive: The Making of the U.S. Military's New Stealth Bomber
- Your Next House Could Be Made on an Assembly Line
- The Legal Implications of the Debate Over Whether 'Extreme Racism' Is a Mental Illness
- Why European Countries Are Giving Teens Free Money To Spend on Books, Music, and Theater
- Republican Skepticism of Trump Has Never Been Higher
- Column: The U.S. Prison System Doesn't Value True Justice
- How Green Is the Qatar World Cup’s Outdoor AC?
- 16 Funny and Whimsical White Elephant Gifts Under $25
- The 5 Best New TV Shows Our Critic Watched in November 2022