Pop culture guru David is back, in praise of the hilarious star of SNL, Kate McKinnon.
One of my regular habits is to check in on Mondays to see what political (or other scandal) Saturday Night Live have lampooned over the weekend. Or just to see what comedy gold Kate McKinnon has created. And now, as the latest series draws to a close (and rumours abound it may have been her last) there’s no better time to celebrate a comic genius.
Kate McKinnon joined SNL in 2012, becoming the third LGBTQ+ cast member ever and the first openly gay cast member for 27 years. She quickly gained success being nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2013 and then every year to 2020 (she won in 2016 and 2017). She grabbed my attention, and possibly a lot of people’s, with her portrayal of Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Election campaign particularly opposite Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump in the Presidential Debate sketches.
This of course culminated in Hilary’s loss and Kate showing her versatility as she performed a serious version of Hallelujah as Clinton.
Hilary’s loss didn’t hurt McKinnon as she went on to portray as gangster’s row of Trump’s female cohorts and supporters including Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos and, one of my favourite impressions, advisor Kellyanne Conway.
More incredible, to me, were the male impressions. She has portrayed Republic Senator Lindsey Graham, now former Attorney General Jeff Sessions (check out the Forrest Gump parody sketch) and, in my opinion, her political pièce de resistance and a miraculous transformation, Rudy Giuliani.
Her impressions aren’t only political as she regular lampoons celebrities including Ellen Degeneres and Justin Bieber. My favourite is her portrayal of Dido in a ‘Stan’ parody called ‘Stu’ which also features fellow LGBTQ+ cast member Bowen Yang possibly stealing the sketch from someone who regular steals them.
McKinnon often portrays queer characters in sketches that poke fun at how the media portrays and treats queer characters. I’m going to recommend some that I enjoyed. A ‘flashback’ to the 1990’s, sketch Supermarket Sweep sees McKinnon and her ‘friend’ (played by Aidy Bryant, who often portrays her gay friend, girlfriend or partner) playing the game. The oblivious host cannot see that they are obviously a couple.
In Themyscira, she plays a character who has travelled to the island with her friend (Aidy Bryant again) as both have made the usual assumption about an island full of Amazon women (the sketch co-stars Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot).
In Fire Island, she was one of a group of characters in a reality show mocking certain lesbian stereotypes as compared to certain stereotypes about gay men. One of the more recent sketches, Lesbian Period Drama, kind of goes without saying.
For me, Kate McKinnon regular steals scenes, often hilariously breaking character and making other cast members and guests crack up (see her alien abduction sketches for great examples). She has just been revealed as cast member in NBC’s adaption of Tiger King. I had very little interest in this until I heard Kate was playing Carole Baskin!
I’m hoping to see more work from her outside SNL as she deserves an even bigger spotlight.
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