Kate McKinnon, You’ve Gotta be Kidding!

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AP

Kate McKinnon is seen at the Los Angeles Premiere of Columbia Pictures’ “Ghostbusters” at TCL Chinese Theatre on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Blair Raughley via AP)

Dunia Sarkis, Staff Columnist

The day has come: my final column. I’m disheartened this is the end (I have so many more shows to recommend), but I have a very special topic for you all, one I’ve been waiting to share since a year ago: “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). The famed sketch show ignited my passion for television, so I thought it best to end this journey where it all began.

Since the age of 12, all of my friends have known that my Saturday evenings are not to be disturbed. I plan my sleep schedule around my favorite part of the week; I gather my remaining energy and keep my eyes glued to the screen from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., no matter how hard I must fight off sleep. Obviously, “SNL” is imperfect; I recognize its flaws and accept that it has its ups and downs from week to week and from season to season, but it has great meaning in my life, much of which stems from a cast member who has been an endless inspiration to me.

Many who know me, from friends to mere acquaintances, are aware that my favorite comedian and person of all time is Kate McKinnon. She recently performed in her 800th sketch on “SNL” and is one of only seven people to ever achieve this milestone! McKinnon is one of the longest-standing cast members in the history of the show and has been a staple player since 2013. With eight Emmy nominations and three wins, she has made quite a name for herself in comedy.

McKinnon’s impact on my life has only become more significant since my first “SNL” viewing. Her hilarious voices, bold physicality, and passion for authenticity and individuality have kept me interested in her work all these years. She’s consistent and talented, and I see her as a significant role model in my life. This is why I’ve compiled a list of some of her best “SNL” sketches. There are plenty to choose from—you can hardly ever go wrong with Kate—and I’ve picked a few of my go-to’s.

One of McKinnon’s best sketches is her very first. In 2013, she played Penelope Cruz alongside Sofia Vergara in a spoof Pantene commercial. She also did her Cruz impression during her “SNL” audition, which got big laughs and eventually ended up making it on air. During her premiere sketch as a lead, she immediately stood out as a talented cast member. I won’t reveal too much, but every time I hear, “Refrigerator?” I crack up. Though lesser known, I certainly recommend checking this one out!

In “A Close Encounter,” McKinnon plays Colleen Rafferty, a woman who is being interviewed at the Pentagon after having been violently abducted by aliens. In each rendition of this recurring sketch, two others also recount their abduction stories, though they seem much purer and happier than Colleen’s. This sketch is certainly a fan favorite. McKinnon always manages to make her co-stars break in this one. Even Ryan Gosling couldn’t help but laugh when she stood up to demonstrate her wild extraterrestrial experience.

There are six hilarious renditions of the sketch; the wacky, bold character of Colleen Rafferty never tires. McKinnon’s fearlessness when it comes to making a fool of herself and others is admirable. If you’re looking for your next YouTube rabbit hole, watching these sketches is certainly the way to go.

This next sketch combines two of my favorite things: Kate McKinnon’s comedy and breaking into spontaneous song and dance. In “Conway,” a parody of “Roxie” from “Chicago,” McKinnon reprises her role as the former counselor to Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, and performs elaborate numbers poking fun at Conway’s desire to be in the spotlight. The whole sketch is rather impressive, considering it was written, staged, choreographed, memorized, filmed, and edited all in less than a week!

This is another underrated yet favorite sketch of mine. I have the whole song and choreography memorized and watch the sketch often for a good laugh. If you’re a musical-theater fan, this one’s for you!

The final sketch I’d like to share is on the more serious side of “SNL’s” material. You may be familiar with McKinnon’s Emmy winning impression of Hillary Clinton. The week of the 2016 election and Clinton’s loss was the same week Leonard Cohen passed away. As a tribute to both, McKinnon opened the show with a powerful rendition of “Hallelujah.” She sat solo at a grand piano and sang beautifully, closing the song by saying, “I’m not giving up and neither should you.”

Audiences, including myself, were already familiar with McKinnon’s reliable humor, but this cold-open displayed a moment of vulnerability and passion that made her work even more admirable. Those last words of hers are ones I return to in times of uncertainty, and I recommend them for you as well.

And live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!