Big Hollywood’s Alexander Marlow has written a spot-on assessment of “Saturday Night Live’s” skit about Obama. This video clip of Chevy Chase on CNN bolsters Marlow’s claim and reveals the truth behind “SNL’s” political parodies:
[youtube GCVySNao3P0 nolink]
To paraphrase Groucho Marx, a child of five could improve on this immensely. Anyone could make these parodies of Obama funnier. Obama’s mannerisms, speech patterns, physical oddities (ears) etc. are ripe for satire. Add Michelle Obama and Joe Biden to the mix and it only gets better. The audience would be rolling in the aisles. Obama presents a comedy writer with the potential for endless comedic situations. Obama is a unique character who offers a buffet of satire, pregnant with possibilities.
But the folks at SNL know they can’t appear partisan by NOT parodying Obama, so they have to do something. They present a bland milquetoast version that gently mocks Obama. And they do it in the show’s opening segment, typically the strongest segment of the program, the attention-getter that sets the tone and hits you hard with the punch line “Live! From New York! It’s Saturday Night!”
Now they’re busted. Chevy Chase’s interview only serves to bolster Marlow’s case. In that CNN interview, Chevy Chase says his lampooning of President Gerald Ford was driven by his support for Jimmy Carter. And he makes no secret of the fact that SNL does this as standard operating procedure.
Chase: … And I certainly, obviously my leanings were Democratic and I wanted Carter in and I wanted [Ford] out and I figured look, we’re reaching millions of people every weekend, why not do it.
CNN: You mean to tell me in the back of your mind you were thinking, hey I want Carter …
Chase: Oh, yeah.
CNN: And I’m going to make him look bad.
Chase: Oh yeah. What do you think they’re doing now, you think they’re just doing this because Sarah’s funny? No, I think that the show is very much more Democratic and liberal-oriented, that they are obviously more for Barack Obama. [In the ’70s], out of the Nixon era, and it was not unlikely that I might go that direction.
CNN: I talked to one political pundit who said, I think Chevy Chase cost Ford the presidency.
Chase: When you have that kind of a venue and power where you can reach so many millions of people and you’ve become a show that people watch, you know, you can affect a lot of people, and humor does it beautifully, because humor is perspective and has a way of making judgment calls. … So I think there was no question that it had major effect and in fact, in speaking with his family and then later him, and even reading some of his books … he felt so, too.”
This makes the case that SNL is manipulating their interpretation of Obama. They’re not doing it to be funny. They’re doing it to be able to say they’ve lampooned Obama. It’s political cover. It’s NBC.