Monday, October 8, 2012
SNL, the 2012 Election, and Learning about Parody
There's a great article in today's New York Times about the influence of SNL during a competitive election season. As we've been learning in my TSEM class(Popular Culture and Politics: Comedy, Entertainment, Celebrity, and Democracy) this semester, journalists and the public alike look to the cast of SNL to offer their parody version of each general election debate. Parody is a reinterpretation of an original text -- a mockery that is easier to understand if you're familiar with the original event or script. According to the SNL writing team, this past Wednesday's debate failed to offer genuine comic inspiration. From the NYT article: "But the debate itself turned out to be a challenge. There were no big gaffes or obvious springboards for comedy. Instead, the first debate of this election offered up a blizzard of policy details and a lackluster performance from President Obama. At home Wednesday night, Seth Meyers, one of the show’s head writers, watched with increasing concern." “It’s boring enough when they’re talking about all this and how it will affect Americans, but when you’re sitting there trying to pull comedy out of it, it’s really bad,” Mr. Meyers said. “There were people on Twitter saying: ‘You must be really happy, there’s so much in this debate. This is writing itself.’ I was like: what debate are you watching?” Despite the lack of comic material, the SNL cast presented three debate related skits this past Saturday night. First, there was the debate cold open featuring Jay Pharoah as Obama and Jason Sudekis as Romney. Not the best debate skit ever, but certainly some funny lines. Then there was the parody of MSNBC's reaction to Obama's debate performance: and finally, Big Bird made an appearance on Weekend Update: Is it bad to suggest that Big Bird (played by Caroll Spinney since 1969) as funnier than any other SNL cast member? Election Day is only a few weeks away and there's the VP debate Thursday night. I wonder what SNL will open with next Saturday night?