7 spectacular times SNL icon Kate McKinnon left us howling with her spot-on impressions
SNL‘s lesbian icon and comedy legend Kate McKinnon turns 38 on Thursday (6 January), which means it’s the perfect time to take a look back at some of her best impressions.
There are plenty of talented people working on Saturday Night Live, but over the years, McKinnon has repeatedly stolen our hearts and minds with her endlessly entertaining impressions.
From her legendary take on Hillary Clinton to her eerily accurate version of Ellen DeGeneres, McKinnon has shown time and time again that she can turn her hand to anything – and she always knows how to make us laugh.
To celebrate Kate McKinnon’s birthday, we take a look back at seven of her best impressions.
1. Kate McKinnon sends up Hillary Clinton
It’s impossible to think of Kate McKinnon without thinking of her timeless impression of Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the disastrous 2016 presidential election.
Most people were left exhausted by that bombastic, often highly-dramatic election campaign – which is part of the reason McKinnon’s impression of Hilary Clinton was so successful. She provided the laughs we all needed with her pitch-perfect take on the would-be president.
Perhaps McKinnon’s most memorable Hillary Clinton moment came when she and Alec Baldwin parodied the tense, unsettling presidential debates which saw Trump following Clinton around the stage
2. Justin Bieber is a ‘big boy now’
In theory, it’s hard to imagine Kate McKinnon playing Justin Bieber – but she absolutely nailed the Canadian pop star when she parodied his famous Calvin Klein underwear advert in 2015.
The iconic clip sees McKinnon’s Bieber telling audiences that he’s “a big boy now” and that he’s “not supposed to drink, but I do.” The whole thing hilariously parodied Bieber’s efforts to rebrand himself as pop music’s bad boy after years of being seen as an angel-faced cherub.
It’s still one of her best ever SNL performances. Even Justin Bieber himself enjoyed it.
3. SNL icon nails Jane Lynch
Kate McKinnon’s impression of Jane Lynch was so perfect that you could easily watch it and think it’s actually Jane Lynch.
McKinnon took off Lynch’s iconic, snappy hosting style on Hollywood Game Night, and she introduced herself as “America’s number two lesbian”. What’s not to love?
Lynch herself was a big fan of the impression. She later told Andy Cohen it was “so great” to be imitated on SNL and said McKinnon “did a great thing”.
4. Kate McKinnon as Ellen DeGeneres is a thing of beauty
If Kate McKinnon was prepared to take off America’s number two lesbian, she was obviously going to give the number one lesbian a go too.
Right from the get go, it felt like the role McKinnon was born to play. She has reprised the role on a number of occasions, treating us to some very awkward dancing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and mocking the talkshow host’s laconic style.
In one of her best moments, Kate McKinnon appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ real-life talkshow, where she copied the host’s fashion sense and even took over her monologue.
5. SNL cast Kellyanne Conway in Chicago and life was never the same
There wasn’t much to laugh about while Trump was in office, but McKinnon and her SNL co-stars always found ways to mock and denigrate the president, his advisors and his government officials.
One of McKinnon’s best political impressions was Kellyanne Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager during the presidential election and later as senior counsellor to the president. Conway was widely mocked for her use of the phrase “alternative facts”, and she frequently referred to an event called the “Bowling Green Massacre”, which it turned out never actually happened.
We all desperately needed SNL to parody Conway, even if it was just to take our minds off how horrifying US politics had become. In one of her best moments as the political advisor, McKinnon performed a Chicago parody which mocked Conway’s profound narcissism and tendency to tell lies.
6. Jodie Foster is ‘game for anything’
Jodie Foster is one of Hollywood’s most recognisable lesbians, so it felt fitting that McKinnon would take her on in an impression for the ages.
The instantly iconic clip saw Foster being interviewed by “Piers Morgan” about her coming out moment at the Golden Globes in 2013. McKinnon’s Foster dodges questions about her sexuality, describing her self as “gay… game for anything!” and “obsessed with girls… the show. I just love that show.”
7. Kate McKinnon as Elizabeth Warren is eerily accurate
Elizabeth Warren captured the hearts of a generation with her impassioned, enthusiastic approach to politics when she entered the presidential race for the 2020 election – and Kate McKinnon’s impression was painfully on point.
One of McKinnon’s best moments saw her mocking Elizabeth Warren for claiming that she was part Native American – and there were also plenty of Trump jokes thrown in for good measure.