There were three Sarah Palins to judge on NBC’s latest installment of Saturday Night Live. There was Tina Fey, imitating the Republican vice presidential nominee in Fey’s latest guest appearance of this political season – and, for the first time on SNL, there was the real Palin, appearing twice in the Oct. 18 show in what reportedly was a booking instigated by Palin herself.
So what to think of all these Palins?
Fey, as is expected by now, was assuredly hilarious as Palin. Palin, as herself, was given two tasks, neither one of which was heavy lifting.
In the show’s cold open, her job was to stand backstage next to executive producer Lorne Michaels and converse with him and some other cameo guests (including Alec Baldwin, who pretended to mistake Palin for his 30 Rock co-star). Meanwhile, the real Fey, as Palin, held her first-ever press conference on stage as the opening sketch. As a capper, the real Palin traded places with her comic doppelganger, refused to answer questions, and shouted the signature phrase, “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”
Then, during “Update,” Palin – the real one – showed up, and pretended to have cold feet about agreeing to perform a rap song. So Amy Poehler took her place, singing a fast-moving number flanked by cast members dressed as a) “Eskimos” and b) Palin’s husband. At times, cameras pointed to Palin, gamely moving in times to the music and raising her arms when prompted.
While Palin got to score “good sport” points by appearing on Saturday Night Live, the fact that her first sketch was built on the idea that she hadn’t yet held a press conerence, and ended with her refusing to do so yet again, can’t help her image.
And in the “Update” sketch, Palin’s appearance gave tacic approval to such hard-edged Poehler-as-Palin-stand-in lyrics as when she sang to the studio audience, “When I say ‘Obama,’ you say ‘Ayers’!” Yikes.
The Palin appearances – real and especially fake – were the highlight of an otherwise very subpar SNL, which may well have been stretched thin by also broadcasting a prime-time special two days earlier. But if the real Sarah Palin is looking for a post-show reaction, here it is: Everyone around her scored more laughs, and came off looking better, than she did.
Sometimes, just showing up isn’t enough of the battle after all.
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