Saturday Night Live plans a concentrated schedule leading up to the presidential election, with six live shows, and only one rerun, and four weekday prime-time shows.
SNL Weekend Update Thursday will air live half-hours Oct. 9, 16, 23. On Election Eve, the 90-minute Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash 2008 will include flashbacks to former SNL prexy mimickers ranging from Chevy Chase’s President Ford to Will Ferrell’s George W. Bush.
Also included: the more recent Hillary Clinton stylings of Amy Poehler, and stabs at Barack Obama by Fred Armisen, who admitted this weekend that he’s still struggling with the character:
“I think I will physically grow more into it. You know, it’s something I’m definitely working on, and people have been kind about it, as well.”
He ridiculed complaints that because he is not African-American he’s unqualified to mock Obama. “I grew up on a hippie commune, and things were pretty loose there. My dad told me we don't really know who my mother is, so she can be one of many races.”
SNL chief Lorne Michaels said the difficulty doing Obama is just that he’s not well-known enough: “Sooner or later, everyone does something to irritate us.”
The success of an impersonation depends a lot on the audience, according to Michaels: “In the summer before the 2000 election … Darrell [Hammond] did Al Gore twice on "Update" at dress [rehearsal], and neither time it worked, and he already had been vice president for seven years at that point. … It took until fall when everyone was paying attention, to get clear as to where they were prepared to laugh. His take, by the way, in May was the same as it was in September, but everybody was paying attention then.”
I asked video jester extraordinaire Andy Samberg what his plans were for 2008-09. “I’m not particularly looking to do politics, but they always need pre-taped segments,” he said. “Actually, I’m just going to phone it in this year.”
Talk to these goofballs enough, and you see why they have their jobs. English is their second language. Sarcasm’s the first.