'SNL' alum Joe Piscopo believes he can replace Chris Christie in New Jersey


First came Al Franken. Will Joe Piscopo be the next SNL alum to join the political fray?

The witty wiseguy — famed for impressions of Frank Sinatra and David Letterman from 1980 to 1984 — may heed the call of his AM radio listeners, mostly blue collar conservatives, to enter the New Jersey gubernatorial race in November. "They say, 'You should run. You'll rip it up!' " says Passaic-born Piscopo, 65. "And I'm like, 'Who would want this job, really?'"

A lifelong Democrat, Piscopo switched teams in 2016 when he backed Donald Trump for president. ("I wanted somebody out of the box," he says.) Ask him how he feels about POTUS' performance so far, however, and he not-so-deftly deflects: "I'm more concerned with — and this is the answer to that question — what's going to lower property tax in New Jersey."

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Donald Trump on 'Saturday Night Live' through the years
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Donald Trump on 'Saturday Night Live' through the years
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: Host Donald Trump during the monologue on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Darrell Hammond, Donald Trump during the monologue on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Donald Trump, Darrell Hammond as Regis Philbin, Amy Poehler as Kelly Ripa during the 'Live with Regis & Kelly' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: Donald Trump during the 'Donald Trump's House of Wings' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler, Kenan Thompson, Donald Trump, Seth Meyers, Maya Rudolph during the 'Donald Trump's House of Wings' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Ross, Donald Trump, Carolyn Kepcher during 'The Apprentice' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: Host Donald Trump during the monologue on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Donald Trump as Jerry the Janitor, Darrell Hammond as Donald Trump during 'The Prince and the Pauper' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Seth Meyers as Peter Fleck, Donald Trump as Gary Fleck during the 'Father and Sons' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler as Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump during 'The Apprentice Band' skit on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 16 -- Air Date 04/03/2004 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bootsy Collins, Donald Trump and Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals on April 3, 2004 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Donald Trump' Episode 1687 -- Pictured: (l-r) Cecily Strong, Donald Trump on November 3, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Donald Trump' Episode 1687 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sia, Donald Trump, and Kate McKinnon on November 5, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Donald Trump' Episode 1687 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bobby Moynihan as Ronald McDonald McTrump, Vanessa Bayer, Donald Trump, and Cecily Strong during the 'Porn Stars' sketch on November 7, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Donald Trump' Episode 1687 -- Pictured: (l-r) Donald Trump and Kenan Thompson as Toots Hibbert during the 'Toots Song Intro' sketch on November 7, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Donald Trump' Episode 1687 -- Pictured: (l-r) Sasheer Zamata as Omarosa, Bobby Moynihan, Donald Trump as the President of The United States, Cecily Strong as Melania Trump, Kenan Thompson, and Kyle Mooney during the 'White House' sketch on November 7, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Donald Trump' Episode 1687 -- Pictured: (l-r) Taran Killam, Donald Trump, and Darrell Hammond during the monologue on November 7, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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If he does run, he'll do it as an independent. "Chris Christie has been in the office for two terms," says Piscopo of the unpopular GOP governor. "It's going to be impossible to win [as a Republican] because of that." Piscopo is pro-union (he's a member of SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild), pro-life ("I'm Italian Catholic") and pro-gay marriage ("Who am I to judge?").

Of the former late-night co-star who joined the Senate in 2009, he says, "I don't agree with Al politically, but I have immense respect for him. He blazed the path for guys like me."

NBC/Getty Images

This story first appeared in the April 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


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