Presidents Abraham Lincoln & George Washington in Pop Culture
It’s the middle of February and you know what that means! Time to celebrate some former presidents. So, grab a cake and load it up with literally hundreds of candles because it’s time to party! To honor Lincoln’s Birthday this week and Washington’s Birthday next week – AKA Presidents’ Day – here are our absolute favorite pop culture depictions of the former presidents. Happy birthday, guys!
[TV still from Parks and Recreation, NBC]
Babe Lincoln – Parks and Recreation (2013)
To get Leslie Knope’s mind off the Paunch Burger groundbreaking – on the site of her dream park, natch – Ann Perkins hires a stripper dressed like Abraham Lincoln to dance at Leslie’s bachelorette party. The dance gets cut short when Leslie informs him that she’s “not in the mood for historical nudity,” but she’s definitely alone in that sentiment. Donna is ecstatic to have the 16th President of the United States at the party and quickly instructs him to emancipate his abs. Turns out he went to middle school with April too. Oh, the joys of living in a small town like Pawnee.
John Legend singing “History Has Its Eyes on You” – The Hamilton Mixtape (2016)
Accompanying himself on the piano, John Legend took on the persona of General George Washington to perform “History Has Its Eyes on You” on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s passion project The Hamilton Mixtape. The song, which in the musical is directed to a young Alexander Hamilton during the Revolutionary War, benefits from John Legend’s signature style. Gentle piano chords stretch time as he sings those opening notes. “I was younger than you are now/When I was given my first command/I led my men into a massacre/Witnessed their deaths firsthand.” A handful of backup singers enter the song periodically to give a stripped down choral treatment to the song. Listening to him sing, it’s easy to imagine him on stage at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.
[TV still from Saturday Night Live, NBC]
“Lincoln” – Saturday Night Live (2012)
When Louie C.K. hosted Saturday Night Live in 2012, he performed the sketch Lincoln, a shot for shot parody of the opening credits of his own show Louie. Only this time, he’s playing President Abraham Lincoln living in modern-day New York City, complete with stovepipe hat. If you’ve ever wondered if Abraham Lincoln had a sense of humor, this is your answer. It’s that signature Louie C.K. deadpan that truly sells the jokes that President Lincoln tells about negotiations with slave owners, his “historically insane” wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and his pretty much guaranteed assassination.
[Still from ERB YouTube channel]
“George Washington vs. William Wallace” – Epic Rap Battles of History (2014)
Known for their popular and prolific Youtube videos pitting historic figures against each other in a test of pure skill, Epic Rap Battles of History took on the challenge of depicting the quintessential founding father in their 2014 video “George Washington vs. William Wallace.” It’s worth watching the whole two-minute video, so we won’t give too much away. But early on in George Washington’s first freestyle, he taunts William Wallace by rapping “Ain’t nobody more street than Big G/Stone face with a grill of sheep teeth” while sneering at him with his dentures on full display. It’s pretty incredible.