Nov 2, 2008

Voting with your funny bone

The past couple of weeks have seen Sarah Palin and John McCain show up on Saturday Night Live, letting the folks at SNL have a little fun at their expense.

Now, this is not an endorsement by any stretch of the imagination, but if I had to vote solely on the "fun factor", the McCain-Palin ticket would win, hands down.

Palin has appeared on Saturday Night Live while McCain has appeared on SNL and David Letterman. In both instances, the folks at SNL had a chance to poke fun at the candidates, although I thought McCain did better than Palin. As for his Letterman stint, McCain showed up even though Letterman had been picking on him the previous day because McCain had reneged on a promise to appear on "the big show", choosing instead to be interviewed by Katie Couric.

Barack Obama has also been on some shows, but nothing like Palin and especially McCain.

For those who don't know, Sarah Palin was spoofed by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live's season opener. Fey did a nail-on impression of Palin that received rave reviews and was the talk of the water cooler for weeks. You can see it on Saturday Night Live's site. A few weeks later, Palin agreed to appear on SNL, and appeared in two sketches: The Palin Rap and the opening of the show.

As you can see, they didn't give Palin much to work with. But they gave McCain much better material and he delivered:  a QVC Opening (which included his wife) and Weekend Update. On The Late Show, he traded barbs with David Letterman, who kept on nagging him about skipping the show the previous day. McCain could easily have said "no" and skipped out completely. But he came on, faced the music, and gave a great show. There was even a tense moment where I felt Letterman was truly upset and agitated about the state of the economy and the country. McCain, to his credit, treated that part of the interview seriously and gave a decent answer to Letterman's questions. This occured only a few days after a debate with Obama. That two-minute segment had more emotion and grit than the entire 90 minutes he had spent "debating" with his adversary.

During the SNL skit, I discovered a side of McCain that I hadn't noticed in the debates: when he's at ease, he is actually a very funny guy. Notice in his skits that he pauses when the audience laughs, in order not to step on their laughter. He doesn't hesitate much and he doesn't have a fake, scary grin like he did at the Republican convention. He genuinely is enjoying himself. I feel like all his TV appearances are a testament to that.

As for the Obama-Biden ticket? Well, so far, they are no fun at all. They don't seem to be making the rounds of the comedy shows and Obama's few apparitions barely made me crack a smile. Obama is smooth, even, and unemotional in his appearances. Those are great traits for a president trying to be reassuring to a nation in distress. But together, they make for boring TV!

I don't know what's going to happen on November 4th. Will the so-called "Bradley effect" prevail? Or will Obama win, as all polls seem to indicate? Will the appearances on comedy shows make McCain appear like a lovable, funny human being? Or will it portray him as a goofball? I'll be watching closely to see.

I will say this in closing, though: if McCain does not win, I hope Saturday Night Live gives him a spot as a regular guest. He could become one of the most valuable members of the team.

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