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Funny Thing: Politics Makes Comedians Work Overtime
October 10, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 

snl-thursday-mccain.jpgThe 2008 presidential election campaign is no laughing matter. Except, on TV, it really is. Big time.

Tina Fey, on NBC's Saturday Night Live, has scored a coup for the ages by devastatingly imitating Sarah Palin. Jon Stewart, on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, just canceled a planned vacation week next week, because this was too volatile -- and politically rich -- a news cycle to ignore.

And Thursday's premiere of NBC's Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday (worst title for anything since, oh, Dictionary of Teleliteracy) proved that, yes, SNL could reach new viewers, and please old ones, with a temporary spinoff of "Weekend Update."

A half hour leaves time for a standard "Update" -- fake news and a few guests -- and what would have been the SNL cold open this week: a spoof of the Tom Brokaw-moderated second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain.

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But with SNL in reruns (Michael Phelps? How long ago does THAT seem?), the debate spoof was perfectly timed, and completely welcome. Darrell Hammond as McCain, and Fred Armisen as Obama, hit all the respective talking points, and Bill Murray showed up, for an unannounced cameo, to ask one of the questions from the debate audience.

snl-thursday-wandering.jpg

But the skit's biggest laugh came from a visual joke, poking fun at the awkward camera angles in which McCain sometimes walked into Obama's camera. That the studio audience recognized that instantly, and was delighted by it, shows just how closely people are watching these debates.

Armisen reappeared, during the "Update" segment, with Will Forte, playing Hall & Oates and offering a clever musical tribute to both candidates. But the strongest part of Thursday's premiere was the "Update" newscast itself, anchored by Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers. Whether by effort or accident, the segment had an unusually high batting average, at one point scoring three laugh-out-loud jokes in a row.

Read them below -- then tune in next week for more.

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AMY POEHLER: "At a rally on Saturday, Sarah Palin attempted to recite a quote from Madeleine Albright that she read off a Starbucks cup. She then summed up her views on energy by claiming, 'America runs on Dunkin.' "

snl-thursday-bollywood.jpg

SETH MEYERS: "Last week, dozens of movie and television productions in India's Bollywood shut down as actors and crew members went on strike. Hopefully, the dispute can be resolved by the people who control Bollywood -- the buh-Jews."

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SETH MEYERS: "A friend of O.J. Simpson says that before the start of his trial, he broke up with Christine Prody, his girlfriend of 10 years. Well, he didn't O.J. break up with her, he just regular broke up with her."

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

 

Gregg B said:

I think the best take on this was on the Daily Show on October 8th. It was the voice of McCain while he was wandering around. Just plain laugh out loud funny. Comes in around 7:40 on this clip.
http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=187584&title=word-war-ii

Comment posted on October 10, 2008 10:15 AM


Alex said:


I actually was rather disappointed with the "Really!?" segment. That's usually my favorite.

Also, however talented Amisen might be generally, his Obama is horrible. They've not found a way to invent a new character based on Obama and his voice is entirely wrong. If you've got nothing, at least get the pitch right, guys.

This is not a small deal, given how much time they give to presidents and presidential candidates. Carvey set the bar high with HW. Hammond broke through the roof with his Clinton. They've had some excellent W's -- especially the first. Gore and Kerry were pretty good, too. But Obama is falling very flat.

Comment posted on October 10, 2008 11:00 AM
 
 
 
 
 
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