Day: February 24, 2008

SNL returns; Armisen as Obama?

Saturday Night Live answered the Obama question right away in the cold open, which tried to take on this week’s CNN/Univision Democratic debate. Fred Armisen played Barack Obama. So??? Armisen has similar facial features, which helped his cause. Already has that faraway look in the eyes down. Skin tone? Too light. Voice? Eh. Which makes for an early verdict of, to use the TV political parlance, too close to call. Of course, Armisen isn’t half-African, but that didn’t stop him from impersonating Prince for years on the show. He won the gig over three outside comedic candidates, all of them African-American. That alone should prompt some renewed debate about SNL’s casting diversity. Again. Hence the renewed. For Lorne Michaels, though, it could’ve just as easily been the easy and economic decision to pick an Obama from within the cast, at least for now. He’s shown with President George W. Bush that he’s OK with recasting the role when it suits the show, so why rush into hiring a new SNL’er, right? The larger problem, anyhow, is that SNL’s political jokes continue to fall short of the funny finish line. They still go for the obvious joke. In this case, the media loves Obama. By the time Armisen attempted a "yes we can" joke, the bit had stretched too long. I clocked it. The entire cold open lasted almost nine...

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