Taran Killam was a castmember on Saturday Night Live for six seasons up until this past year. Throughout that time, he was one of the glue guys (in the spirit of Phil Hartman) who could play just about any kind of character: he could seamlessly fit into any given sketch as the straight man, he could get totally weird as Mokiki, and he even went viral with his backstage dancing.
Since leaving SNL, Killam has gone on to star in a little show called Hamilton and has worked on his debut film, Why We’re Killing Gunther. But in an interview with Brooklyn Magazine this week, he talked a bit about his SNL experience, and about that episode with Donald Trump — arguably one of the worst SNL episodes in the show's history. Killam did not mince words about how uncomfortable it was for the staff, writers and stars, and added, "Yeah, well, the president is a moron." Killam also says Trump couldn't read so well:
Yeah. Man, I just remembered that you were on last year when he hosted—I don’t even wanna ask about that.
It was not fun, and most of the cast and writers were not excited to have him there. I didn’t get the feeling that he was excited to be there, and it felt like a move for ratings from both sides. He was…
Unpleasant? He was… everything you see. What you see is what you get with him, really. I mean, there was no big reveal. He struggled to read at the table read, which did not give many of us great confidence. Didn’t get the jokes, really. He’s just a man who seems to be powered by bluster.
This isn't the first time an SNL cast-member said Trump had trouble reading while on the show. In a radio interview, Pete Davidson said: "He doesn't get it. He thinks everyone is laughing with him, but we're all laughing at him." (Samantha Bee also devoted a segment to this conspiracy theory.)
Killam also talked about the incident when Mike Pence came to see Hamilton and was showered in boos (which happened just before he became part of the show):
I think it was really well handled, and I’m very impressed by how the cast handled it. I think what I’ve learned from the cast is that a lot of the negativity was coming from the audience, and I think it was important for the cast that Mike Pence know that they were glad he came, and glad they had that opportunity to perform for him and to communicate with him, and that all are welcome at Hamilton. It’s not a show for any one type of person. I think you see that in the story, in the way that they’ve cast the show, and the people who connect to it and are affected by it. So yeah, I definitely know that people like things that are salacious and scandalous, and you watch the videos and you hear the boos, but I think that’s raw emotion coming from the people that are sharing the space, and I think if you watch what was said by the cast and by the show, and the way that they presented themselves, that it was intended to be an exchange of ideas.
Check out the whole interview here.