Author: Sean L. McCarthy

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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SNL dress rehearsal to reveal Obama

Soon enough we’ll have our answer to the SNL Obama question, as the cast and audience get ready for the Saturday Night Live dress rehearsal. The Huffington Post’s Rachel Sklar reported that Lorne Michaels formally auditioned three outside candidates: MAD-TV’s Jordan Peele, 30 Rock writer and Derrick sketch/improv trouper Donald Glover, and stand-up (and Stephen Colbert’s "black friend") Jordan Carlos. There’s also a potential insider surprise in Fred Armisen. His roster of impersonations already includes Prince. If it’s Armisen, be sure to 1) hear a lot of debates and arguments about it, and 2) read what Armisen has to say about it on his SNL...

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More on SNL’s newcomer(s)?

The return of Saturday Night Live tomorrow night will mark the first cast changes in three years. Casey Wilson joins the troupe as a featured player, and Defamer got her on the phone yesterday for a very very brief Q&A, in which we learn that she sent in a 10-character video, heard in December that Lorne Michaels showed interest, then auditioned in January. As for who’ll play Barack Obama? Who knows? Obama played himself the first time. Where is Obama on Saturday night? Related video: Here’s a CNN report on the SNL Obama search, which features Wyatt...

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Behind the CCP: Lavell Crawford

All of this talk of Barack Obama impersonators and no one has mentioned Lavell Crawford? Oh. Right. I can imagine Crawford has a "No, We Can’t" joke somewhere in his arsenal, though. This Friday, Comedy Central only debuts one new Comedy Central Presents half-hour, and it’s Crawford’s, taped last August while the comedian was in the running to become NBC’s Last Comic Standing. In fact, he had on the same suit and shirt he’d worn on TV earlier that week. Though I ask the tough questions, I didn’t ask him if he at least changed his underwear. Seeing him perform then, I wondered about LCS and its supposed prize of a TV special, and if this meant Crawford wasn’t so worried about winning or not. Later, I also saw that Jon Reep (who would win last year’s LCS), already had his own CCP. Then I quit thinking and started listening. Crawford joked about diabetes — "the sugar!" — about Aspen (where I’d first seen him a year ago), and about jet-skiing. The producers asked him to retape his introduction, and when he returned onstage, he actually went ahead and did more than a few minutes of additional material. Was there a timing issue? Was this a redo, or in essence an encore? Tune in tonight and find out. Or tune into this clip for a...

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