I grew up watching the “Classic” Saturday Night Live cast of Dana Carvey, Mike Meyers, Chris Rock, Phil Hartman, Ellen Cleghorne and the inimitable Dennis Miller for weekend update. The cast of SNL goes through up and down phases (they’re now experiencing a bit of a renaissance) but they are never more funny or more important than during presidential election seasons when you have candidates, quirks and stupid quotes to run with for an entire year.
The problem is this year we’re facing the prospect of two pretty dull candidates in Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. One is flat, bland and a perpetual people pleaser; the other is cool, aloof and never makes a mistake. Essentially we’re talking about Niles vs. Frasier here. Apparently, Saturday Night Live writers fear the same thing, so they’re inviting Mitt Romney to host the show. The hope is that he can spice up what might otherwise be a dull campaign season.
A New York Times article from last week encapsulated the problem:
Stuck with a Tin Man-versus-Spock race, the writers perk up at the thought of Romney’s picking the crackling Chris Christie as his running mate. But Mitt seems too programmed to risk his hard-won chance at the brass ring on a brassy partner who might overshadow him.
But that’s only part of the problem. Unlike a Niles vs. Frasier (or Tin Man vs. Spock) race, neither Romney nor Obama have any real comedy “handles,” quirks or catch phrases that are easily mockable. I mean, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, with her folksy phrases and quirky speech patterns was pure comedy genius and made SNL appointment television all through 2008. In four years of being in office no one has been able to come up with a sustainable Obama impression, and it’s not through lack of trying, he just doesn’t give them much to work with.
With Rick Santorum out of the race, the campaign countdown has begun, but another countdown is also starting for SNL. Key members of the current popular cast Andy Samberg (who played Rick Santorum) Kristin Wiig (who plays Ann Romney) and Jason Sudeikis (who plays Mitt Romney) might be leaving the show so SNL is making one last ditch attempt to catch political comedy fire for campaign 2012 by having Romney host the show.
A good job hosting could do wonders for Romney in the election, although the list of presidential candidates that hosted Saturday Night Live doesn’t include one winner (Al Gore, John McCain and Jesse Jackson, just to name a few). But rumor has it that Mittens is seriously considering the offer right now. Just as soon as his staff tells him whether or not he actually likes Saturday Night Live.