“Saturday Night Live” boasts a cast of 17 actors. You’d think that would be enough to portray any character the writers want to put in a sketch. Yet the show consistently goes for stunt casting during its cold open political sketches, as it did this weekend when Matthew Broderick played Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
SNL has a long history of doing this. Think Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Dan Aykroyd as Robert Dole, Larry David as Bernie Sanders, or even Alec Baldwin’s long-running Trump. But in those cases, not only did the guest star look like the politician they played (sometimes with the help of the backstage makeup and hair crew), but they also worked on the voice and mannerisms to create a reasonable replica.
But if you saw Broderick on Saturday night, you didn’t think of Pompeo, for two reasons: 1) No one actually knows what Pompeo sounds like or how he acts; and 2) Broderick made no effort to be anyone but Broderick. The same goes when Robert DeNiro plays Robert Mueller — no imitation, just one famous guy pretending to be another guy.
Is there really no one in that cast of 17 who can play a bland-looking white guy with no discernible mannerisms? It seems like Lorne Michaels has very little confidence in his enormous troupe of performers. Except for Kate McKinnon, who gets to parody prominent people (male or female) in every political sketch, while the rest of the cast looks on from the dressing rooms.
While I’m on the subject of SNL, why does that one female member of the band have to step out of camera range during the monologue each week, while the male musicians get to sit there in the background and pretend like they’re hearing those jokes for the first time? Is she waiting for some celebrity to come in take her place?