Remember how Quentin Tarantino brought John Travolta’s career back from the dead? That’s sort of how it’s starting feel in terms of SNL and Sarah Palin. To wit: Sarah Palin’s, albeit rather dull appearance on SNL this weekend resulted in the show’s highest ratings in 14 years. And what of that appearance? Over at HuffPo Alec Baldwin is defending SNL‘s decision to have the Alaskan Governor on (which begs the question, did anyone actually think it was a bad idea?)
Saturday Night Live is a comedy show. It’s not Meet the Press…It attempts, with varying degrees of success, to make people laugh. That’s it. Whether they skewer and savage people in order to do so, they don’t care. When you come on a show like that, you are prepared in advance to get worked over. Palin knew that. Palin came on to be a good sport. And she was. She was polite, gracious. (More so than some of the famous actors who come through there, believe me.)
More to the point, if you haven’t already watched the Sarah Palin rap please go do so, it is hysterical. However! The New Yorker is also weighing in.
Kelefa Sanneh looks at the history of SNL‘s political impersonations and finds that they’ve become harsher as the years have progressed:
Political impersonations on Saturday Night Live used to be a good deal more impersonal. Dan Aykroydâ€™s version of President Carter had a half-Southern accent and a whole mustache. Chevy Chase’s version of President Ford was pure whimsy, as if someone had simply said, “Jovial. Clumsy. Go!” They were making fun of Presidents, but they were also making fun of Presidential impersonation, a hoary showbiz tradition that had come to seem unhip. In the nineteen-eighties, the impressions grew more precise: there was an avalanche of Reagans, and then there was Dana Carvey, who found a quirky nerd lurking within the seemingly unquirky first President Bush. Like any regular characters on the show, the fake politicians had to be at least a little bit lovable, which is why the most successful political parodies tended to make their targets seem more sympathetic, not less. Will Ferrell played the second President Bush as a cheerful idiot who had been thrown into the deep end; he captured the winsome earnestness of a guy doing the best he can. As Bush, in a 2000 sketch, Ferrell used the non-word “strategery” to sum up his governing philosophy. Apparently, Bush liked the term: a schedule that was unearthed during the perjury trial of Scooter Libby revealed that the White House played host to at least one “strategery meeting.”