Saturday Night Live election-year specials are pretty much always a good idea. In 2008, with the Obama/McCain race in full swing and Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression making national headlines, it just made sense as a way to get that impression out there as much as possible. Now, the Obama/Romney race has been a little less insane, and Jay Pharoah is just now firing up his Obama impression, so maybe that’s why NBC only ordered two specials this time (the other one is next week). Even then, a viewer might have wondered if the whole endeavor was worth it at all. Then a secret videotape of Romney emerges, and, well, that’s reason enough right there.
Now, after watching The Daily Show just utterly demolish Romney and Fox News on this issue last night (it’s been bouncing around the Internet, but look for “Chaos on Bullshit Mountain”), SNL can’t help but feel a little late to the game. When it comes to high-end political satire delivered from behind a desk, Seth Meyers has always paled in comparison to Jon Stewart. Still, the extra-long cold open worked out well, presenting the nonsense through the eyes of Fox & Friends while elaborating on the Romney video as you might expect.
First, in the original fundraiser video as presented in the sketch, Romney goes on to clarify that when he’s talking about people who don’t pay taxes, he doesn’t mean the elderly, or our soldiers, or southern whites. “What I mean is… and real quick, no one is recording this, correct?” Fox & Friends, of course, gives him the pass for insulting blacks. Why would they support Mitt Romney? “If I was black, I’d think Mitt Romney was king of the honkies!”
The Romney stuff continues in a typical vein. He’s a Mormon, so he can’t deal with soda (“here comes the sugar blindness!”). He’s rich, so he can’t be bothered with Cash Cab, referring to a $25 prize as a quarter (“Is there any other type of quarter? I don’t understand”). Then in the shower, he just sings about poor people not liking jobs. Better were the increasingly creepy asides from Bobby Moynihan, who, when asked to name a perfect person, chirped, “Why, Santa Claus.” “Santa Claus isn’t a real person.” “Let’s not have this argument again.”
After the Romney skit, we were already in the home stretch. If you get a few chuckles out of Meyers’ one-liners, there was some of that for you, and much of it was not even politically focused. (The jokes felt a little like the rejects from the Weekend Update writing for the Saturday show). Bill Hader showed up to do his reliable James Carville impression, improvising a couple of air-drum solos and saying Paul Ryan is great, “If you like Mitt Romney but you think he’s too cool and relatable.”
Then Drunk Uncle (Moynihan again) showed up just because it’d be weird if Hader turned around and did Stefon, I guess. If it’s a primetime Weekend Update, the show is going to break out its most popular characters, and Drunk Uncle is definitely up there right now. I heartily enjoy Moynihan’s work in the role, but the idea is pretty much that he rambles on and on and on, so the routine gets a little stale by the end of every appearance, no matter how many sarcastic references to Twitter and Instagram he can toss in.
As a quick burst of reliable SNL jokes, I can’t find fault with the concept of Weekend Update Thursday, but I wish the episode had made a little more of an effort. I’m sure the cast is taxed essentially producing one-and-a-half shows in one week, but trotting out two characters and one sketch (plus the cute convention cutaways DVD ad) with no sign of an Obama impression or Taran Killam’s promising Paul Ryan was a bit of a let-down, considering the supposed political focus. I guess we’ll wait to see what happens in the news next week. Or we could all just tune into regular SNL on Saturday where, no doubt, everyone’s really trying their hardest.
- “It’s like the women’s volleyball coach at my high school used to say: 'You can’t tape people without their permission, Brian.'”
- Seth notes that Mitt is king of the panderers. “If that was a room of fat kids, he would have told them cake was a vegetable.”
- Carville is surprised Seth is pleased to see him. “Seeing me normally gives people quite a start. I’m told I resemble a FIST!”
- He has a twin sister, Jemima. “What does she do?” “She waits by the phone.” “That’s sad.” “Well then call her!”
- Drunk Uncle hates flying. “You wanna know what my carry-on baggage is? Korea!”