The Shrill actor featured on the US sketch show from 1990 to 1994, during which she impersonated Clinton’s then-teenaged daughter, Chelsea. However, the impression didn’t please the former First Lady, Secretary of State and presidential candidate.
Appearing on the Fly on the Wall podcast, Sweeney said that her impression of Chelsea “rubbed somebody wrong”.
“People were saying how unattractively I was playing Chelsea, and all I did was not wear makeup and put braces on,” she told hosts Dana Carvey and David Spade. “If you say that, you’re saying I’m unattractive!”
Sweeney continued by claiming that she “wasn’t trying to play [Chelsea] unattractive”, adding: “I just didn’t wear makeup and put on braces. That was it, and a wig. A long wig.”
One person who wasn’t happy with the impression was Chelsea’s mother, who “wrote a letter” to the creator of SNL, Lorne Michaels.
However, Sweeney said that she “understood what Hillary was saying... especially now that I’m a parent”.
“It’s like, yeah f*** off. I mean, don’t play kids,” she said. “That was wrong. She was right – that was wrong.”
Chelsea, who is now 43, reflected on the sketch in 2022. “I had a different experience with comedy in some ways than a lot of people, because I was made fun of so much as a child, by people who were professional comics,” she said.
“When SNL made fun of me, I was like, ‘Wow, a group of adults sat in a room, all decided this was a good idea, nobody thought maybe we shouldn’t make fun of children.’”
While Sweeney never played Chelsea again, a Wayne’s World sketch on a 1992 episode of SNL saw Mike Myers and Dana Carvey list the top 10 things they love about the president. One of the selections was Clinton, prompting them to make remarks about the then 13-year-old’s appearance.
After it aired, Myers issued an apology letter to the Clintons, and the joke was edited out of subsequent reruns of the sketch.