Horatio Sanz was a cast member on SNL from 1998 to 2006. He was able to see Will Ferrell do his likable George Bush while Darryl Hammond brilliantly played Bill Clinton. At this year's South By Southwest Festival (SXSW) in Austin, Horatio Sanz sat down with Bill Simmons and discussed his feelings about the iconic late night show.
Fox News is just in awe that someone thinks this show, often considered too liberal, is too conservative. Then again, they think that anyone who is merely tolerated by liberals is not conservative enough. Sanz believes, since the years he was on the show, that writer Jim Downey portrayed Democrats in a very harsh light.
In his interview with writers James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales for the 2014 update to their comprehensive history of the show, Sanz called longtime writer Jim Downey “the Karl Rove of SNL” and said the show should have been harder on conservatives in recent years.
As an example of what he was talking about, Sanz pointed to a sketch that aired the week Nancy Pelosi took over as Speaker of the House, in which her staffers are two men in S&M outfits. “That’s what you get out of that story?” Sanz asked. “That everyone in San Francisco is so weird that they’re wearing fucking leather and whipping each other.”
Remember, John Boehner got the job after she was incredibly effective as Speaker, perhaps this did have some effect. It was certainly misogynist.
While the show tends not to hit Democrats that hard, Simmons pointed out the “savage” portrayal of Hillary Clinton in the most recent episode as a counter-example. “It was pretty brutal,” he said. “If they keep this going, this actually could affect things a tiny bit.”
Sanz noted that the way a politician is portrayed has more than just a little bearing on their success. For example, Horatio noted that the way George Bush was portrayed as a regular bro who drank beer made enough of a difference that he garnered the extra 10K votes he needed to "win" in 2000. Out of an audience of 10 million, a figure like ten thousand is more than plausible.
As the writers go from anti-establishment like they were in the seventies to establishment, like Downey is today, we see conservatism rear its ugly head. As a result, we've seen myriad 'comics' like Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Dennis Miller, Jon Lovitz and Colin Quinn embrace conservative politics, often at their own perile. I couldn't include Victoria Jackson (with her six terrible seasons on the show), as a legitimate alum as she's gone off the deep end completely.
I was happy to hear my thoughts actually put into words by Sanz. After all, Sanz is a member of Second City, so he's got a lot of street cred. Jimmy Fallon and Sanz would often lose it on the live television show and it was perhaps the most organic and funny part of the show for years. This sketch, called Cork Soakers, was one of the greats.
For the full podcast from SXSW, click here.