‘SNL’: Laura Ingraham and Every Other Role Kate McKinnon Has Nailed
Kate McKinnon has been one of the most versatile comedians in Saturday Night Live history. She can play both women and men without issue. She can be smart and alluring or she can be brash and off-putting. And she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, either! Really, McKinnon can do it all.
She showed off those talents once again in a recent episode, portraying scandalous Fox News personality Laura Ingraham. It’s just one of several fantastic and high profile roles that McKinnon has taken on in recent years. Let’s take a look at the other SNL roles McKinnon has absolutely nailed, including the pop star she loves to impersonate (page 5) and her Ingraham impression (page 10).
1. Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Not long after Donald Trump won the presidency, a Weekend Update sketch looked at the reality that Trump’s appointees in the coming years could see the Supreme Court skew conservative for decades to come. Enter McKinnon in a black robe, thick glasses, and a dark wig as Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Her portrayal of the 83-year-old judge was outstanding, claiming that she’s never going to retire, dumping Emergen-C powder straight into her mouth out of the pouch, and joking that Rudy Guliani is a vampire. Never has Bader Ginsberg been so funny!
Next: A woman from Russia
2. Oyla Povlatsky
Back in 2013, it was a little bit more fun to joke about Russia than in recent years. When a meteor exploded in the country, Seth Meyers brought McKinnon’s character Oyla Povlatsky — a woman from a small village in Russia — onto Weekend Update to talk about it.
Her character isn’t a big fan of the motherland, and the thick Russian accent that McKinnon developed is absolutely outstanding. She tells a heartwarming tall tale about a goat eating the dust of an incinerated girl who worked hard without complaint. It was inside the goat’s belly that the girl was finally warm. Oyla has returned off and on, but she has probably never been more relevant than during the 2016 Presidential Election.
Next: A clueless cabinet appointee
3. Betsy DeVos
The resemblance was uncanny. There are few roles that McKinnon has played more successfully than Betsy DeVos. With a straight-haired blonde wig, some glasses, and a big necklace, McKinnon was able to put on the exact, correct, “smile even though I have no clue what I’m talking about” expression that DeVos has become known for.
On yet another Weekend Update segment, McKinnon commented on the disastrous 60 Minutes interview in which DeVos further outed herself as having no clue what she’s doing as Secretary of Education. Some of the ideas included schools for bears in Wyoming, crocodile crossing guards in Louisiana, and keeping all schools as safe learning environments for guns.
Next: A big name pop star
4. Justin Bieber
Another role that McKinnon has played more than once is Justin Bieber. One specific performance that was excellent come just before the Atlanta Falcons played the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, which made Bieber (a Falcons fan) relevant for a Celebrity Family Feud sketch.
McKinnon pulled off the look of Bieber, while still capturing the “Hey, look at me try to be a grown adult” attitude that has been present with the pop singer in recent years. Even when the other cast members were taking the spotlight, McKinnon could be seen crouching and making hilarious faces in the background.
Next: Another big name pop star
5. Iggy Azalea
Another role that McKinnon absolutely knocked out of the park was her portrayal of Iggy Azalea. The premise is ridiculous enough, the notion that Azalea had her own talk show with guests. Iggy welcomed guest Azealia Banks and her cousin Rafty (played by that weeks guest Chris Hemsworth). The whole segment was absurd.
The best part about what McKinnon was able to do with the Azalea impression was knocking out both the Australian accent and mimicking the star’s specific sound while rapping. It may not have been McKinnon’s funniest skit, but it was so well done.
Next: A woman with a very bad experience
6. Colleen Rafferty
In a skit about alien abduction, McKinnon played a redneck by the name of Colleen Rafferty. While her counterparts in the sketch (including guest host Ryan Gosling) were shown to have a peaceful and calm experience upon being abducted, the chain-smoking Colleen wasn’t quite so lucky.
McKinnon’s descriptions of peeing in a large metal bowl and having aliens line up to “bat around her knockers” is a riot, and it has Gosling laughing uncontrollably through the whole thing. It was so good, SNL even brought the character back for more alien abduction stories.
Next: A famous talk show host
7. Ellen DeGeneres
If there were ever a cast member that was perfect to play Ellen DeGeneres, it’s McKinnon. As much as she loves to smile and nervously dance around in her sketches, the fit was unbelievable. But not only that, during a sketch where McKinnon played Ellen as the host of her award-winning day-time talk show, the comedian even nailed the tone and inflection of Ellen’s voice.
In the face of big news regarding Vladimir Putin, McKinnon talks about a recent trip to the dog park and makes dog-related puns. As the show goes on, McKinnon squirms around her chair and makes very Ellen-like comments. It’s also not specifically one of her funniest sketches, but it’s one of the most on point.
Next: A cringeworthy one-night stand
8. Sheila Sovage
Another one of McKinnon’s great recurring characters is Sheila Sovage, a late-night drunkard that is usually found closing down a bar known as Donnelly’s. McKinnon frequently shares these skits with another actor, including people portraying Dave Chapelle, Charles Barkley, and the real Larry David. With her unkempt hair and multi-colored, weird plaid shirt, Sheila is obviously struggling with love and desperate for a late-night hookup.
Whether it’s her sad and disgusting demeanor or the fact that she once claimed to wear an Ace bandage in place of underwear, it’s hard not to laugh at poor Sheila. And if you don’t dig Sheila, you can always laugh at the reactions of the bartender portrayed by Kenan Thompson.
Next: A persistent senator
9. Elizabeth Warren
Those that keep up with politics will remember the time that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was told to stand down by Mitch McConnell while reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. In response, SNL brought Warren to Weekend Update in the form of McKinnon. Rather than just doing her usual joking style of smiling and nervous movement, McKinnon went straight at the heart of Warren – flipping through papers while delivering hard-hitting questions to host Colin Jost.
When Jost mentions that she really never does stop, McKinnon responds, “My FitBit says Check Engine.” She even finishes with a short jab at SNL for allowing Donald Trump to host the show while he was running for president.
Next: A mean Fox New host
10. Laura Ingraham
After Fox News host Laura Ingraham mocked Parkland High School student David Hogg for being rejected by several colleges, Hogg turned the tables and started an advertising boycott of her show. That led to a brief hiatus from the show, and then Weekend Update brought in McKinnon to really let Ingraham have it.
“Don’t boycott my show. Our country’s so divided, and I’m an important part of that,” she says. “Let’s move on. You know I’m gonna say somethin’ worse, why don’t you just watch the show and find out what that’s gonna be?”
McKinnon was the perfect one to play Ingraham, even outside of the fact that she so easily pulled off the look of the blonde-haired, caucasian Fox News host. She hit hard on Ingraham’s speaking style, and even made up a few new fun sponsors for her show.
Next: An elf-like politician
11. Jeff Sessions
Another one of McKinnon’s most popular repeating characters is current United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It really is hard to pick just one skit in which McKinnon portrays Sessions, too. She’s so good in all of them, wearing a bald cap with a wig and several other devices to help her pull off the look of the former senator from Alabama.
In one Weekend Update sketch, McKinnon appears as Sessions alongside former Minnesota Senator (and Saturday Night Live alum) Al Franken. McKinnon’s faux southern accent is extremely endearing, until she starts spouting that she has been taking Franken white-water rafting while Al has “been showing me Jew stuff.” It truly hits at the heart of Sessions’ public persona.
Next: A foreign politician
12. Theresa May
McKinnon has had the opportunity to do many different accents on SNL, and we haven’t even gotten into the many times she’s tried out an Irish brogue. But at any rate, on another edition of Weekend Update she got to play a foreign character, this time British Prime Minister Theresa May.
She came on to talk about the tough relationship between the United Kingdom and President Trump, and the wooden way in which she delivered the lines were absolutely a perfect representation of May. Again, this one skews more toward excellent imitation than funny, but it counts.
Next: Another foreign politician
13. Angela Merkel
Once again, McKinnon gets to try out an accent while playing a foreign leader. After Trump was named TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year, she was brought into Weekend Update as German Chancellor – and TIME’s 2015 Person of the Year – Angela Merkel. It’s not the last time she would play the popular character, as well, reappearing in the same segment to discuss Merkel’s reelection in 2017.
She was spot on in discussing how the honor seemed to be diminished by the magazine awarding it to Trump, relating it to being given the Nobel Prize for physics and then finding that the next year it was given to Hoobastank.
Next: One of Trump’s biggest allies
14. Kellyanne Conway
One of McKinnon’s most popular and frequent characters since the 2016 election is Trump counselor and strategist Kellyanne Conway. They’ve run with several creative takes on McKinnon as Conway, including a segment in which she’s obsessed with Jake Tapper and another in which she parodies Pennywise.
But the pick here is “A Day Off,” in which Kellyanne seems to be enjoying some time with her family before having to make an appearance on CNN to lie for President Trump. Then she gets to go to yoga with her friends, but once again has to stop to go on CNN to talk about yet another Trump tweet. It’s extremely well done, and McKinnon is amazing as always.
Next: McKinnon’s most famous role
15. Hillary Clinton
Probably the SNL role that McKinnon has become most famous for is her portrayal of former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The number of times that McKinnon has appeared on the show as Clinton are too many to count. That really ramped up late in 2016 when she would often show up alongside Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump.
There was even a scene in which Clinton appeared with McKinnon as a bartender lending a sympathetic ear. The conversation between the fake Clinton and the real Clinton is great, including a moment where the real Clinton declares that it’s great that she supports gay marriage. McKinnon agrees, even if she could’ve come around a lot sooner. It’s just one of the many wonderful skits in which McKinnon played Hillary.
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