“And I can see Russia from my house!”
The line, delivered by Tina Fey on the Sept. 13 season premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” drew the biggest and most appreciated laugh of the night.
The night marked the highly anticipated return of alumna Fey, who appeared as Sarah Palin in the opening skit. Fey, baring a remarkable resemblance to Palin, stood alongside Amy Poehler, who played Hillary Clinton.
With plenty of John McCain and Barack Obama satire during the almost two-year period of this election, the take on the Alaskan governor was well overdue. Obviously, many Republicans who mocked the enthusiasm Democrats had for Clinton and Obama now swoon over McCain’s running mate, as Democrats grow increasingly frustrated and nervous about her. Regardless of political feelings, most adored Fey’s dead-on impersonation, which mocked Palin’s policy na’veté and Alaskan accent.
According to a New York Daily News article, “This season’s premiere was the second most-watched ‘SNL’ ever, falling behind the Dec. 17, 2002 episode, when former vice president Al Gore guest-hosted and Phish was the musical guest.”
In arguably the most historic, unprecedented, unusual and unsound election of our time, “SNL” – perhaps the funniest show in history – has unfortunately been on the sidelines thanks to last year’s Writers Guild strike and the show’s summer vacation. The strike caused the show to miss lampooning such characters as Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, but thankfully, they made it back in time to take advantage of the final throes of the Clinton and Obama battle. After months of the media’s fascination with Obama and disgust for Clinton, “SNL” decided to take the road less traveled and ripped apart the media for their different treatment of the two candidates. Immediately after, an offended media unleashed a slue of negative stories on Obama; some have said this helped contribute to Clinton’s last minute wins in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania.
Since 1975, a year after Richard Nixon resigned from the White House due to the Watergate scandal, the show has become a champion in the world of political satire. Chevy Chase, despite having absolutely no physical similarity to Gerald Ford, forever helped define Ford’s legacy as a stumbling goof.
A decade later, Dana Carvey lampooned George H.W. Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” speech, then four years later played both Bush and Ross Perot in a debate against Phil Hartman as Bill Clinton. But it was Darrell Hammond playing the 42nd president which had the most valued mimicry of those Clinton characteristics of biting the lip and pointing the thumb. And of course, Will Ferrell’s use of the word “strategery” would set the stage for eight years of Bushisms.
Most politicians laugh along. While eulogizing President Ford, the former president Bush discussed the famous Ford falls on “SNL.” He followed the discussion up with a “Not gonna do it,” a nod to Carvey’s impersonation of Bush. Since coming into office, President Bush has even called his meetings “strategery meetings” in honor of Ferrell’s depiction of him.
“Saturday Night Live” has become an immortal part of American pop culture, giving birth to the careers of countless comedic legends and unforgettable moments, especially when it comes to political satire. Few American comedy shows have reached such a level of brilliance. Last week’s show, in particular Fey’s imitation, was further proof of that.
Contact all reporter Chris Kallio at [email protected]