This weekend, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will host Saturday Night Live. To borrow a phrase from the former reality TV star himself, it's gonna be huge—at least, the controversy is.
The New York City real estate magnate's contentious statements on the campaign trail, particularly his comments that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, have led many to call on NBC and its advertisers to "dump Trump" from the long-running sketch show. The network publicly severed ties with Trump in June, firing him as host of The Celebrity Apprentice and pulling his Miss USA pageant from its lineup, following his "derogatory statements" about immigrants.
Should that stop SNL from showcasing Trump, whose bold, unpredictable behavior (that feels like an understatement) has made him God's gift to comedy writers? Here's what 29 of the show's former and current cast members think of the Donald.
In October, Breuer appeared on the Opie with Jim Norton Sirius Radio show, where he compared politics to professional wrestling. Though he doesn't "know anything [Donald Trump] has said" and predicts that Hillary Clinton will win, Breuer nevertheless calls Trump's brash persona "freaking brilliant."
Carvey brought his Trump impression to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last month. “I’m not saying I want Donald Trump to be president, but I never want to live in a world where Donald Trump isn’t running for president," he joked. "My quality of life has gone way up.”
While an SNL cast member, Dunn famously boycotted the 1990 episode of the show hosted by stand-up comedian Andrew Dice Clay in protest of his misogynistic and homophobic material.
CNN's Ashleigh Banfield recently asked Senator Franken about Trump's upcoming SNL episode. He said only that it would be "an entertaining show" before praising Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and her recent cameo appearance in the season premiere.
In a July interview with Time, Garofalo—a comedian, activist, and former progressive talk radio host—discussed Trump and the 2016 election:
The problem is when [politics] becomes too tragic, when certain right-wing nonsense is actually culturally criminal: the anti-immigrant stuff, the Donald Trump nonsense. Yes, we can laugh at Donald Trump, but it is just absurd. First of all, you can’t parody it. You cannot parody Donald Trump. …None of that stuff is funny to me. It hurts me, and it should be something everyone is concerned about. When prideful ignorance and homophobia and misogyny and xenophobia become accepted politic rhetoric, that’s not funny to me.
The SNL announcer, who had impersonated Trump while a cast member, told the Washington Post that the candidate's ubiquity makes parodies of him land that much harder: "He's all over the place, and he's doing a lot, and he's saying a lot…The politician has to do something that the most amount of people care about, so you can tell your joke, and you reach the maximum number of people."
On Late Night With Seth Meyers, the current "Weekend Update" co-anchor explained that—while he isn't "pro-Trump"—he still has "a real affinity" for the man, who he likens to the Batman villain Bane.
"When you grow up in New York, on some level, you love Donald Trump… he's like the New York Post or something," Jost explains. "If you don't love the New York Post, why do you live in New York City?"
In Louis-Dreyfus' recent Emmy acceptance speech, she quotedVeep, the HBO political comedy for which she won Best Actress—"What a great honor it must be for you to honor me tonight"—before revealing that Donald Trump was actually the source of that line.
“It’s getting trickier and trickier to satirize this stuff," she added.
Unlike many of his peers, Norm Macdonald doesn't see the value of Donald Trump even as a punchline—in fact, speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, he draws a comparison between Trump and Hitler:
I’m interested in politics insofar as if Donald Trump were to become president. Then I’d become political. But Jesus, this guy I would never want as president. This is like Huey Long territory. You could really see him being a fascist—the inability to apologize and the way everybody is a "loser" or a "winner." …He says truthful things, and that’s what people like about him—but he just seems so terrible as a person.
They say humor is the ray of light that illuminates the evil or whatever, but I was reading that in Germany and Hitler times, everybody was making fun of Hitler. Every cartoon was against Hitler, there were comedy troupes doing sketches about Hitler being an idiot with a stupid mustache and what a stupid little idiot he was. So anyway, there goes that theory about the power of comedy. It doesn't work at all. That's seriously how I feel about Trump.
The Late Night host made an enemy of Trump back in 2011, when he mocked the mogul at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. (Representative zinger: "Donald Trump has been saying that he’ll run for president as a Republican—which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.")
Meyer talked Trump in an interview with The Daily Beast in August: "At the end of the day I think everybody only has to take seriously that Donald Trump is at the top of the polls without ever having to take Donald Trump seriously… I think the reason people say, 'Yeah, I’d vote for him,' in polls is the same reason I’d be happy to have him on my talk show, because he would make a better talk show guest than anyone else running for president."
These days, Dennis Miller is best known as a conservative political commentator. On an August episode of The O'Reilly Factor, he expressed his support for Donald Trump (and playfully volunteered to serve as his press secretary):
I like Trump. I like Trump because it would be nice to have somebody who’d get on Air Force One and think that he was slumming it as far as private air travel goes. …I like the way Trump raised his kids, his kids seem cool. And this country right now is a big unruly kid, so I like the idea of him stepping in—plus he’s a great stick in the eyes to liberals, they hate him.
In a 2011 Daily Show appearance, Morgan poked fun at Trump's association with the anti-Obama "birther" movement:
I just want to reply to the Donald Trump thing: Donald, I got the certificate. It ain't in Hawaii. It's in Brooklyn. Come get it if you wanna see it. I got it. I got some people uptown in Manhattan checking you out. And you know, my aunt on 116th and Lenox, said Terrence belongs to you: A little black boy with blue eyes and hair that goes like THIS—[gesture]
In September, the cast member best remembered for his Frank Sinatra impression spoke positively of the Trump campaign on Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast. "He’s got his structure all in place, Donald does, you can’t discount him," Piscopo said. "He’s locked and loaded and prepared."
The eccentric actor has lived in Canada with his wife Evi since 2010. The couple fled the country over fears that they would be murdered by a mysterious cabal they call the "Hollywood star whackers."
In this video, Quaid details a conspiracy involving aliens, the movie Independence Day, Rupert Murdoch, and Stephen Hawking, then announces that Donald Trump is "the only American candidate not beholden to the petrol nazis—the only one, like Eisenhower, who before him was not beholden to the military-industrial complex and will not become their bitch."
The 2015 Emmys host burned Donald Trump in his opening monologue: “Donald Trump, of course is running for president, to the delight of uncles everywhere. But I’ve got to say, sure, Donald Trump seems racist… what else?”
In an interview with Variety Latino about his movie Pixels, Sandler said, “I think I could beat [Donald Trump] at most [games]… I think if you pointed to a game, we could take Donald down.”
Like Seth Meyers, Horatio Sanz was on Saturday Night Live when Donald Trump hosted in 2004. Sanz, who is one of just two Latino repertory players in the show's history, expressed his wariness of Trump to his former castmate on Late Night in September: “You know when you have a gym teacher who wears his pants up his ass and you want to laugh at him? That’s kind of what he’s like—yeah, he’s funny, but he’s not funny, you know what I mean?”
"The polls have basically been about, 'Who do you want to see on TV?' At this point that's what they are about," he told Rolling Stone.
In September, Thompson (who was also in the cast in 2004, when Trump first hosted an episode) reminisced with Meyers about a goofy SNL sketch they appeared in with the then-star of The Apprentice.
“You wouldn’t have thought at the end of that sketch that that guy should run for president," the Late Night host joked.
“I still don’t, but it’s happening," replied Kenan, "He’s saying something right, and wrong, at the same time."