I’m going to date myself here, but every kid has fond memories of the first time they are old enough to sneak downstairs on a Saturday night and watch Saturday Night Live for the first time. Oh, how subversive! Mom and Dad are upstairs, fast asleep and you’re down there, sticking it to the man!
Eh, not so much these days. Let’s be honest. Nope, hey, stop sticking your fingers in your ears. You need to hear this.
SNL doesn’t stick it to the man so much anymore. Well, let me rephrase that. It picks a favorite, and then sticks it to the favorite’s opponent.
Put a pin in that. I’ll come back to it in a moment.
When I first started sneaking downstairs to watch SNL, George H.W. Bush (Bush the Elder) and Bill Clinton were running against each other in the 1992 election.
Both sides were mocked relentlessly and without mercy.
First, Dana Carvey would portray Bush as a whiny little wimp, a grandfatherly know-it-all who tried to pretend like he was cool while he was telling the country to eat its vegetables. He’d dodder around like a confused old man and poke fun at Bush’s overused catchphrases like, “thousand points of light” and “Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture.”
Meanwhile, Phil Hartman would play Bill Clinton as a womanizing fast food junkie. The real Bill made it a point to jog, probably to answer the public’s questions about his flabbiness.
So, Hartman had a skit where he’d jog into a McDonald’s, then say he’s just there for a coffee, then he’d walk around, answering the political questions of random citizens and use their food as props, stealing their meals right off their plates and eating them like an uncontrollable food fiend.
For example, while trying to explain the war in Somalia, he’d steal a patron’s chicken nugget. See this nugget? It’s a care package sent from the UN. It’s supposed to get to starving villagers but (he eats it) it has been intercepted by warlords! (After that, he’d tell the secret service agents that him overeating is the least of what he’s going to need them to not tell Hillary…i.e. his cheating.)
Fun times. Hey, guess how the writers who wrote those sketches voted in 1992? If you said they voted for Bill Clinton, you’d be right. Sure, I never checked but be real. It’s the entertainment industry. Honestly, I have no idea, but if Phil Hartman went out and voted for Bill after making fun of Bill, it would not phase me in the slightest.
Imitation, they say, is the highest form of flattery. Mocking a politician in the third world is a good way to lose your head but in America, if you get mocked on SNL, that’s a sign you’ve made it to the big time.
Everyone was level headed about it. There was humor to be found in the Republicans. There was humor to be found in the Democrats. The writers cared the most about your laughter and if making their preferred candidate look like a fat chicken nugget chomping sex fiend and that doing so might cost him some votes, they did not care. They cared about making you laugh over all else.
Not so much today. Look, I’m not saying don’t make fun of Trump. I mean, holy shit, the man is a billionaire with no filter who says whatever the hell he wants without fear because if you had that much cash on hand, you’d have no filter either. He’s on his third wife, he’s an old dude that chases models and porn stars, he’s got hair that defies gravity….yeah, there’s a lot to make fun of. Go for it.
Just don’t hold back on the Dems. Don’t be like this new crop of quasi-political pundit/comics out there. Don’t be a Sam Bee or a Michelle Wolf or a Jon Oliver or one of these pro-Dem cheerleaders pretending to be a comedian but instead you’re just regurgitating DNC talking points to a laugh track with a smile on your face.
That, a comedian does not make.
I think SNL lost its way in 2008. Tina Fey did an absolutely hilarious Sarah Palin. Don’t get me wrong. The problem is her Palin was so good the public started thinking that Sarah had said things that Tina had said in her impression. But whatever. Tina’s job was to make you laugh and she did.
Problem is I think SNL learned the power that comedy can have on elections and they held back on their preferred politicians ever since.
Think about it. Can you think of one good skit that made fun of Obama? First, for some crazy reason, they had Fred Armisen play him for four years, then finally they found Jay Pharaoh who actually did a good Obama impression in Obama’s second term.
They never really made fun of Obama though so much as they portrayed him as the only brain in a room full of fools. I don’t know. I’ll give it to Obama that he was a gifted orator, but a good comedian can find comedy everywhere. Put me on the SNL writing staff from 2008 – 2016 and I’d of given you sketches of Obama promising everyone free unicorns and puppies and rainbows or what have you.
Hillary was given the same kid glove treatment. Surely there were some sketches with Hillary doing unsavory deals while Bill chases babes around Chappequa.
Put your political leanings aside. Make fun of both sides. If you do, you’ll a) make both sides laugh instead of one and b) the side that’s pissed at your joke will (at least they should) respect you as a non-hack when you make fun of the other side and vice versa.
Really. Are you in it to be a cheerleader or to be a comedian? 1990s SNL writers lapped up laughs at the expense of both political parties. 2008 to present SNL chose sides and left 50 percent of potential laughs lying on the floor. That’s a lot of laughs to miss out on.
Where am I going with this? In this chapter, I make fun of social justice warriors. I don’t want to spoil it, but there’s a lot of talk about therapy puppies, therapy coloring books, safe spaces, trigger warnings, telling everyone that they’re literally worse than Hitler. Paul, Britney and Chad end up getting chased by college protestors because Paul dared to, as he put it, “offer a nuanced opinion.”
“I offered a nuanced opinion and now I’m a dead man!” What a great line Paul says as the mob of angry SJWS chases him with pitchforks and torches.
Nuanced opinion? I agree with you mostly, but have reservations when it comes to x, y and z issue. Oh no. Don’t offer a nuanced opinion. 100 percent agreement or bust or get away from me, fascist.
I worried about writing this chapter. I made fun of college protestors and they aren’t known for having a good sense of humor. But then later on the book, I’ll make fun of a certain crazy haired president so….really…if you want the most laughs, make fun of both sides. If you don’t, you’re leaving 50 percent of your potential laughs on the cutting room floor.