Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Evolution of a Political Impersonator

Courtney wrote up a good analysis of Saturday Night Live political impersonators yesterday, but one recent addition to the show's stable of faux presidents was entirely left out of her list: Fred Armisen's Barack Obama.

There's probably a reason for that. Armisen is hit-or-miss at best, and just not funny at worst, but I had been working under the impression that, while his Barack Obama isn't funny, he does nail the cadence of Obama's voice. Turns out that wasn't always the case. Here's an example from back during the primaries.

Que horrible! Now, here's the Armisen as Obama that I was more familiar with. The dude really has come a long way.

Let's hope he gets a few more years to practice the persona.


Chris said...

Meaghan and I noticed the same thing last night. His early impression was really awkward, but he's improved it.

Maybe sometime in the next several weeks he'll figure out how to make it funny.

Jacob said...

I'm not sure his parts were supposed to be funny. During the primaries he was the straight man to Poehler's barely constrained hysteria of Clinton and the fact he played it straight made the over-the-top fawning of the reporters in that one bit so funny.

Since then, he's always played the straight man to the situation or other characters. Actually, Hammond's McCain isn't funny and I think for the same reasons.

Plus, Obama seems really hard to turn into a caricature. He's just too laid back and reasonable. Armisen parodies his cadence a little bit, but the only thing I could think of to really play him as a clown like the Clinton and Bush characters would be to really play him up as a blatant elitist kind of like blending him with that stereotyped French noble from the just before the revolution. He could have kept a lacy handkerchief to pull out and hold to his nose as comedic points and maybe take arugula breaks during the debates.

Courtney said...

Yeah, he's gotten better. I noticed the same thing on the SNL Presidential Bash last night.

The newer impression does get the cadence right and it is funny, but sadly for SNL, Obama is just not all that mock-able.

Oh, and they already milked the blatant elitist thing with Kerry. That was just too easy.

Mickey said...

I noticed that too. He really has come a long way with it, and now it is the cadence that is the whole joke. I give the guy a lot of credit for finding what it is that makes Obama peculiar and bringing the focus to it, rather than just attempting a complete impersonation, which is doomed to failure. That's actually how most SNL impersonations go, and it's why they work, I think.

sid said...

Ugh couldn't view the video. My place of employment is so strict!

Julie said...

I would turn off my tv if the best they could do impression-wise was put a lacy handkerchief in his pocket to impersonate his elitist attitude.