“Now let me make it hot in her, I’m North Carolina’s Governor. I passed a new law for you and me, so trans people can’t watch kids pee,” Pat McCrory said in a sketch Saturday Night Live released online last week.
Well, Gov. Pat McCrory didn't actually say that – it was SNL repertory player Kyle Mooney, who played McCrory in a digital extra that spoofed the Republican establishment and payed homage to the famous 1985 Chicago Bear’s “Super Bowl Shuffle.”
In the sketch, the North Carolina governor was featured alongside portrayals of U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former Speaker of the House John Boehner.
“I thought it was a really well done sketch. I thought it was funny – it looked like an awful exercise 80s video or something,” said Casey Moore, a member of the Chapel Hill Players, a sketch comedy group.
Scott Myers, a screenwriter and teacher in the Department of Communication Studies, said McCrory’s place among prominent Republicans in the SNL sketch points to the national profile McCrory and House Bill 2 have attained.
“It suggests that this news item has penetrated into the consciousness of people across the country,” he said.
Myers said his colleagues in Hollywood are confused about what is going on in North Carolina and have negative impressions of the state as a result of House Bill 2.
“I have people out there getting in touch with me and basically asking, ‘What the heck is going on back there?” he said “And we’ve seen companies threaten to boycott the state — like Lionsgate and Disney and A&E and 21st Century Fox.”
There should be a minimum of one Kate McKinnon-as-Lindsey Graham impression in every SNL episode https://t.co/gJ7v7rqjn7— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) April 7, 2016
Moore said SNL’s decision to include McCrory and House Bill 2 is a testament to the number of people who disagree with the law’s passage.
“I think it really spoke to how controversial H.B. 2 is with the fact that SNL thought to include Gov. McCrory in their piece,” she said. “I thought it was a great way to satirize what’s going on right now.”
Dana Coen, the director of the Writing for the Screen and Stage minor at UNC, said in an email that “the ability of television and internet satire to advertise, expand and even initiate a political conversation has never been more apparent.”
Comedy is generally a useful tool for political commentary and can have an important impact on political discussions, Myers said.
“Comedy is oftentimes the canary in the coal mine — it’s on the front edge of cultural issues, which then creates a conversation that can lead to change,” he said.
A divided political system like ours, where politicians seem to be so aggressive and radicalized, Myers said, creates a constant stream of material for late night talk show hosts to joke about.
“I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing but at least from a comedian’s standpoint, it gives them a rich resource of materials to work with,” Myers said. “Hopefully, it will create a conversation that will lead people to a more sensible way of going about things.”
Moore said comedy is a great way of showing how crazy politics can get — something SNL and late night hosts John Oliver and Samantha Bee are great at.
“We, as audience members, already look at the national debates and find this stuff funny,” she said. “But then we see people on this national platform also finding it funny, and it kind of reinforces our ideas.”
As Mooney as Gov. McCrory rapped in the SNL sketch: “If you like Trump ‘cause he’s insane, he ain’t got nothin on this crazy train.”
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