The final "Saturday Night Live" of 2008 scored one last potent political punch – but not by imitating Obama, McCain, one of the Clintons, or even scandal-plagued Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (though the latter was the subject of the opening skit, courtesy of Jason Sudeikis).
No, the big political comedy score this weekend came courtesy of another gubernatorial impression – Fred Armisen’s instantly accepted impersonation of New York Gov. David Paterson. The second he appeared on "Weekend Update," Armisen’s Paterson scored with applause, loud laughs and an overall response of approving delight – something Armisen’s Obama has yet to achieve.
Armisen, imitating the legally blind governor, connected with both his physical bits of business – one eye closed, one roving – and his punch lines. When asked, "Governor, what do you have against New Jersey?," he replied, "Unfortunately, a southern border."
Then, after his "Update" appearance was over, Armisen’s Paterson returned, wandering into camera range, close up, the way Darrell McCain’s John McCain had after the candidate’s free-range debate appearance. It appeared to catch "Update" co-anchor Seth Meyers by surprise, and cracked him up.
And the roving ersatz Paterson struck again during "Update," right in the middle of a truly poignant moment when Amy Poehler, without irony, was saying goodbye in what she announced was her final appearance on "SNL." The hat-trick appearance broke the tension, and broke up Poehler, who ended the segment by hugging Meyers tightly. At the end of the show, cameras lingered on Poehler for her final goodbyes.
Earlier, Poehler and an already departed regular, Maya Rudolph, teamed for one last edition of "Bronx Beat with Betty and Jodi," in which the two of them drooled over the accent of the neighborhood’s new British butcher (played by guest host Hugh Laurie). Interrogating him about his favorite cuts of meat (thighs? breasts? tongue?), the ladies were so persistent, breathless and funny that Laurie broke character, smirked and began laughing– twice.
Also good: Poehler and Meyers in a Blagojevich-focused "Really!?! With Seth and Amy" essay on "Update," and musical guest Kanye West’s powerful pair of performances. On the other hand, the singing lamp sketch may have been the dimmest bulb of the entire season to date, but, once again this week, the highlights made up for the lowlights. Even if, this week, the lowlights were literal.
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