JI: Do you think that night’s mockery goaded him into running?
SM: I don’t buy that it’s the main reason, but I certainly think he is driven by petty grievances. In the run-up to the election, a lot of the articles saying that evening caused him to run left my name out, and it really hurt my feelings. I wanted credit for tricking him into running. But then after he was elected I shifted my opinion to This was really Obama’s fault. Obama shouldn’t have told all those jokes.
JI: Okay, so it’s your, Obama’s, and Putin’s fault.
SM: Yeah, I would say in that order. When the three of us get together, it’s pretty much all we talk about.
JI: At the Golden Globes in January, when you joked about Oprah not having what it takes to be president, were you trying to repeat the trick? Were you trying to get her to run for president?
SM: It was just a joke. When people ask me about the next presidential election, I really stress how wrong I’ve been about everything for a long time.
JI: But right after that joke, she did give a very presidential speech, which started everyone talking about 2020. Do you think it’s a good idea for more celebrities to run?
SM: No. But again, I don’t know what is a good idea anymore. If Oprah fully wanted to commit herself to being president, I would be behind that. She’s a really intelligent person.
JI: Who do you think does the best Trump?
SM: [In a Trump voice] Look, I think everyone would agree, my Trump is excellent. [Normal voice] I think Alec Baldwin and Trump are a great match because you need a real big personality to fill a big personality.
JI: In an environment like this, do the jokes write themselves? Or is it actually harder to write jokes, because everything’s absurd?
SM: Writing jokes in general is hard. The day that Donald Trump announced and came down that escalator, we were giddy—we thought it would just be a month of insanity. I’ve worked in comedy-writing jobs where the big story is the debt ceiling. Now there’s no shortage of things to talk about.
JI: What made you such a political comedian?
SM: I grew up in New Hampshire, right next to Manchester. Everybody came through for all these election cycles. I was fascinated that people who were in my town would be impersonated on SNL that Saturday.
JI: What do you think happened to Jimmy Fallon? Why is he serving up such apolitical mush?
SM: I don’t think it’s fair to judge all shows through the prism of what a certain audience wants. There are people who still want to watch late-night shows, but don’t want cutting political opinion pieces. I respect that. When you’re watching television at 11:30 or 12:30 at night, it’s fair for people to want something relaxing as opposed to something that amps them up and puts them in a terrible mood. I don’t think that we are living in a permanent political moment, and when this comes to a close, people like Jimmy will be very well suited to go back to what they did before, which is just to be really entertaining.