The Democratic primary returned to SNL’s cold-open slot after a few weeks’ absence this weekend:
* The Clinton campaign released the couple’s tax returns late Friday afternoon, which means they had to throw this sketch together quickly. So I can only imagine how lousy the skit it replaced must have been. After a few weeks that featured Jeremiah Wright, Hillary’s sniper-fire embarrassment and Barack Obama trying to bowl, this was the best they could come up with?
* If you’re keeping score on cold opens, that’s: defense of Hillary, defense of Hillary, meta-criticism of Hillary encasing a spoof of Obama, and now, defense of Hillary again. (Notwithstanding the obligatory Bill-is-a-horndog jokes, the essential message is: why should having a lot of money disqualify anyone from running for president?)
* Having said that, I’m not sure that the issue at SNL is that it’s in the tank for Hillary. On Weekend Update, for instance, Seth Myers had this line: “Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said she is not a quitter and compared herself to Rocky Balboa… the washed up, over-the-hill white contender, who despite a Herculean effort, is soundly beaten by the charismatic black guy.” It’s the disparity between Amy Poehler’s strong Clinton and Fred Armisen’s stiff, tentative Obama. Poehler, simply, is ready on Day One, whereas SNL seems to have no idea what to do with Barack. (I don’t agree with critics who say that a black man has to play Obama, but I will bet that not having a black actor has made SNL all the more cautious in writing material for Armisen that could possibly offend anyone.) So when in doubt, SNL pitches to Poehler’s clearly superior impersonation.
If Clinton fails to get the nomination, she won’t be the only accomplished woman whose long period of preparation will have been for naught. Is it too late for Poehler to start working on her Obama impression?