But things were different as recently as 2015, according to “SNL” alum Taran Killam, who left the show the following year.
In fact, Killam claimed this week on Matt Gourley’s “I Was There Too” podcast that at one point, “SNL” creator Lorne Michaels ordered writers not to vilify Trump, who was then a presidential candidate. Michaels, Killam claimed, told the show’s writers to make Trump appear “likable.”
“Lorne was being so specific about what we could and couldn’t say about him,” Killam says in the podcast, describing a proposed skit involving Trump being interviewed by CNN.
“He was dictating a lot of the settings,” he added, claiming Michaels argued against doing the sketch as follows:
“It’ll be too old news by then, and you know, you don’t want to vilify him. He’s like any New York taxi driver. I know him, I’ve seen him around at parties for years and years, and he just says whatever it is he’s thinking, and that’s his thing. But, you know, you have to find a way in that makes him likable and why don’t we do something where it’s him in his apartment, and it’s him and Melania and he’s just a guy...”
(As a bonus, Killam delivers all of the above in a plummy Lorne Michaels voice.)
Killam says he was baffled by Michaels’ directive.
“I was like, what is happening? What is going on?” he told Gourley. “Everybody that I know and respect is like, this guy is a bad dude, this guy is a buffoon.”
But he said it all made sense to him several weeks after the toned-down segment aired, when he saw Trump’s name added to the board of upcoming hosts. “It was like, oh, OK, that’s why,” he said. “I see.”
Michaels has not responded to Killam’s claims.
Trump eventually hosted the show in November 2015. Killam said last year that the highly protested episode “only grows more embarrassing and shameful as time goes on.”
Check out the full podcast below. Killam’s comments on Trump and “SNL” are from the 45-minute mark.