How does Saturday night live find random celebrities to do impressions of people

Examples would be Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, Ben Affleck as Keith Olbermann, etc.

These aren’t regular cast members or the host, so how do they get jobs playing a character rather than the regular cast?

Do the celebrities send in audition tapes and say ‘I can play this guy if you need me to’ or something like that?

How does a random celebrity who isn’t on the show get picked to do an impression?

I’m pretty sure they’ve built relationships over time with a lot of these actors – Lorne, or his people, probably call up Alec (or Melissa McCarthy, or whomever, or their agents) and offer them the gig. If they’re in NY at the time, or if they’re excited enough about doing it, they probably say “sure”.

Weren’t all the actors listed once hosts of SNL?

In the case of Alec Baldwin playing Trump, it was Tina Fey who first suggested it to Lorne Michaels (cite). Baldwin has hosted SNL numerous times (and of course costarred with Fey in 30 Rock), so he’s no stranger to the show.

Comedy is a very small circle. I have no doubts that while comic friends are hanging out and shooting the shit that they delve into impressions and make jokes and screw around.

Throughout that I’m sure an impression or two pops up that’s remembered.

In the case of Melissa McCarthy, she started out in improv as a member of The Groundlings so doing impressions is right in her wheelhouse. The Groundlings and Second City account for most of the performers on SNL so I’m sure they were all very aware of her skill even before she hit it big.

In the case of Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, Lorne Michaels admitted that his initial idea was to have current cast member Kristen Wiig play the part. On the way to the studio, his doorman remarked how much Palin looked like Fey. By the time he got to his office several friends and SNL staff had remarked on the resemblance, and Michaels decided to go with it.

Familiarity has a lot to do with it. The writers and cast members have all worked with the extra guests before and know they’ll fit right in. I remember reading the reason why SNL chose Buck Henry to host the season finale so often is because they wanted as few problems as possible and he was the easiest to get along with.

Affleck was in fact the host of that episode. During the pitch meetings earlier in the week, the writers will look at who the host does impersonations of or who the host looks like or sounds like and write sketches to highlight those.

They apply for it. Or they get asked. Or it happens spontaneously. One of those.

Using a woman, even one as great and funny as Melissa McCarthy, to be the male press secretary seems like it would’ve involved some discussion or something. I don’t see them doing a “hey Fey = Palin!” on-the-spot observation.

I’d love to hear how they made the connection and got the gig. She killed.

Well, she’s known for doing “belligerent, self-serious doofus” roles skillfully (her character in Bridesmaids was sort of along those lines). So that would naturally bring Spicer to mind.

By the way, there are indications that Trump was freaked by the idea of a woman playing Spicer–enough so that the very fact of his having been played by a woman might lead Trump to give him the heave-ho:
Though this might be more of a topic for Great Debates, it does at least show the power of SNL.

Or the weak-mindedness of Trumpelthinskin.

These are strange times. A 42-year-old TV program is trying to personally troll the President of the United States, and succeeding.

Feh. The bar for that is lying on the ground.

Well, this whole thing is just who knows who.

Then over here you have favoritism.*

That settles it; if Baldwin ever gets tired of play Trump give the role over to a woman in drag. Or possibly Kenan (if so don’t even bother with whiteface).

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Yeah, my first thought on hearing about this ‘Trump freaks out over Sean Spicer being played by a woman’ story was: recast everybody. Kellyanne Conway should be played by one of the men, and Bannon and Flynn definitely should be played by women. (My guess is that Trump is pleased and flattered, rather than annoyed, by having Bannon portrayed as the Grim Reaper, because the Grim Reaper represents power.)

Oh my, that is rich. Freakin’ hilarious.

They should have Baldwin-as-Trump dressing down McCarthy-as-Spicer for having the temerity to be spoofed by a girl. With Kate-as-Kelleyanne referring to it as a massacre.

We live in surreal times.


There’s talk of Rosie O’Donnell playing Bannon. At least, on twitter she says she likes the idea.

At some point SNL should do the meta-sketch as well: after spoofing Spicer or Bannon, cut directly to Baldwin’s Trump sitting on the couch at 1 AM writing angry tweets…