Monday, October 13, 2008

SNL Packs a Punch

For years Saturday Night Live has been fading into satirical obscurity, with most people convinced that the days when it represented anything close to cutting-edge satire were decades past. However, Tina Fey's recent and hilariously successful impersonations of Sarah Palin have been so spot-on that some are suggesting Fey is actually influencing the election.

Not since Chevy Chase made many viewers perceive Gerald Ford as a clumsy stooge has a television impersonation been credited with altering the political narrative to such a degree, said John Pitney Jr., a professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

"The parodies may have done a bit of damage. People remember Gerald Ford through the prism of Chevy Chase," he said. "Ford was among our most athletic presidents, and he had a wide-ranging knowledge of public-policy issues. But because of 'SNL,' many came to think of him as a buffoon."

A recent Washington Times poll found 33 percent of independents said the "Tina Fey effect" is hurting the McCain-Palin ticket. Palin is trying her best to laugh off the SNL skits, and her loyal base is furious about what they perceive as the 'disrespectful' parodies. But the damage has been done: Tina Fey has raised SNL's ratings by nearly 50%, and for many it's impossible to separate the real Sarah Palin from the parody. The moral of the story? - Don't run on a presidential ticket if you happen to bear an uncanny resemblance to one of the sharpest, Emmy-award winning humorists around.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Stephen Colbert's world - we just live in it

Satirical persona Stephen Colbert is unabashedly self-aggrandizing, mimicking the art of punditry so well that he makes the real articles look pale in comparison. It was, therefore (in hindsight) almost inevitable that the self-anointed great man would answer America's 'call for a hero' - a call which only his superior hearing can make out! - and run for President, at least on the South Carolina ballot.

Most people seem amused by the notion of a comedian entering the race for president, though most also seem to feel that he cannot possibly harm the dignity and sanctity of the process since it is already trailing along in the mud, on various levels. However what makes Colbert a dangerous candidate is the same thing that makes him a dangerous talk-show host: his utter lack of hypocrisy. He embraces the absurd, takes the most alarming doctrines of the right and pursues them to their 'logical' conclusions. Where most public figures gloss over inconsistencies in their positions or unpopular issues, Colbert charges forth, ostensibly blind to all but the beautiful music of his own drummer.

The Colbert Report is first-class satire in the truest sense of the term (as opposed to the amusing, but less trenchant parodies of The Daily Show) and it is a treat to see the man himself enter an already surreal ring at the peak of his powers. Whatever happens in South Carolina, it is sure to be interesting.

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Satire pervades the web, seeping into mailboxes and mainstream news like a spilled cup of coffee. It stains and it won't go away.

The Bitter Cup is a collaborative blog for members of HumorFeed, a collaborative of satire and humor sites that has been making trouble since 2003.