Jim Carrey quits as Joe Biden on 'SNL': 9 other comedians who portrayed politicians on sketch show

As the comedy actor steps down from playing the president-elect, we look back at who else has played big names on the long-running live show

Plenty of famous US politicians have been portrayed on 'Saturday Night Live', including Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, Maya Rudolph as Kamala Harris, Jim Carrey as Joe Biden and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. Twitter, SNL / NBC
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It looks like US President-elect Joe Biden will be getting the Saturday Night Live treatment from a new comedian, after Jim Carrey announced he was stepping down from portraying the politician on the long-running sketch show.

After six episodes spent playing the president-elect, Carrey, 58, will pass on the role of playing Biden, 78, to another actor for the remainder of SNL's season.

"Though my term was only meant to be six weeks, I was thrilled to be elected as your SNL president ... comedy's highest call of duty," the actor posted on Twitter. "I would love to go forward knowing that Biden was the victor because I nailed that ... But I am just one in a long line of proud, fighting SNL Bidens!"

Carrey was the third actor to play Biden on the show, which has been running on US TV since 1975, with the next president of the US having been previously played by actors Woody Harrelson and Jason Sudeikis. The latter played Biden during Barack Obama's terms in office.

"Thank you to Jim Carrey for showing up when it mattered," SNL tweeted back.

With Carrey bowing out, we take a look at nine other stars who have taken on the mantle of playing the big names in US politics …

Donald Trump, played by Alec Baldwin

The 30 Rock actor played the current US president for the entire duration of Trump's term in office.

And, after having played the same role for the past four years, in the wake of the 2020 US election results, the star took to Twitter to declare: “I don’t believe I’ve ever been this overjoyed to lose a job before!”

Kamala Harris, played by Maya Rudolph

The Bridesmaids actress was playing Harris even before she became the vice president-elect. Rudolph won an Emmy for her portrayal of Harris when she was still a senator. Returning to the show almost 10 years after she left as a long-running castmate, Rudolph said of playing the history-making politician: "I like being on call for SNL. It definitely helped me with my election anxiety, feeling like I'm actively involved."

Bernie Sanders, played by Larry David

The Curb Your Enthusiasm star started portraying the progressive politician back in 2015, during the first time Sanders ran for president. David said the role came about after he did a Sanders impression to his agent over the phone, who immediately called SNL creator Lorne Michaels.

“Then they were both on the phone 10 minutes later,” he revealed.

Hillary Clinton, played by Kate McKinnon

Current SNL cast member McKinnon played the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate opposite Baldwin's Trump during the 2016 election. Her portrayal won her an Emmy, and was mentioned in Clinton's memoir of the election, What Happened.

“On a very personal note,” said McKinnon during her Emmy acceptance speech, “I want to say thank you to Hillary Clinton for your grace and grit.”

George W Bush, played by Will Ferrell

The comedy star was nominated for an Emmy for playing the 43rd president. At the time, Rudolph played National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice, with Dean Edwards as Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In one sketch, Ferrell as Bush muses: “Donny Q Trump came in and suddenly I'm looking pretty sweet by comparison.” Adding that he might end up carved into Mount Rushmore “right next to Washington, Lincoln, and I want to say, uh, Kensington?”

Sarah Palin, played by Tina Fey

In what became one of SNL's most famous political portrayals, the Mean Girls actress played the Alaskan governor, after she was named John McCain's vice presidential nominee back in 2008. Fey, who won an Emmy for her work as Palin, admitted she took on the role after her daughter saw a picture of Palin in a magazine and mistakenly thought it was her.

Barack Obama, played by Jay Pharoah

The stand-up comedian and impressionist played Obama during his time as a cast member of the show. Pharoah replaced actor Fred Armisen, who had been playing the first black president of the US, with SNL creator Michaels saying "it might be time to shake it up".

Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton

The Canadian-American actor played Clinton on the sketch show, earning himself the nickname “Glue” for his ability to hold the show together. He portrayed the former president 18 times, with a December 1992 sketch, in which Hartman as Clinton goes into a McDonald’s and eats everyone’s food while waxing lyrics about politics, a standout.

George H W Bush, played by Dana Carvey

Although he's most famous for playing Garth in Wayne's World, Carvey also tried his hand at playing politics when he portrayed the 41st US president. Playing the senior Bush on SNL between 1987 and 2000, Carvey snapped up an Emmy in 1993 for his impersonation.


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