Art and Entertainment

tina fey as sarah palin, tina fey sarah palin
Dana Edelson/NBCU Photo Bank via AP
Tina Fey as Governor Sarah Palin (left),
Amy Poehler as Senator Hillary Clinton

Tina Fey Joins Funniest Political Impersonators

October 10, 2008 07:57 AM
by Rachel Balik
As Tina Fey’s rendition of Sarah Palin takes TV and the Web by storm, we look back at other great political impersonators.

Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin Boosts SNL Ratings

Across the board, people are watching less TV. But the fourth episode of “Saturday Night Live” drew 42 percent more viewers than SNL’s fourth episode last season, and the draw is most likely Fey’s spoof of Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The episode featured a parody of the vice presidential debate.

Newsday’s “The TV Zone” blog predicts that the show’s ratings would get even better if Sarah Palin joined Tina Fey on an episode of SNL. While blogger Verne Gay dutifully informs readers that his hunch isn’t based on specific facts, he suggests some reasons why it might actually be a good idea, and predicts what might happen. Gay thinks maybe McCain needs a bit of humor injected into his campaign, and that the networks—and the newspapers—could really use the publicity. Plus, it would be interesting to see which Sarah dropped more Gs.

Political Impersonators of the Past

Even John F. Kennedy, one of the country’s most cherished presidents, provided fodder for comic critique. Vaughn Meader, a once struggling comedian, saved his Kennedy impersonation for the last five minutes of his acts in bars. Although some producers were afraid of offending the White House, he was eventually able to secure a deal and record the album, “The First Family.” On the album, Meader did the voices for John and Robert Kennedy.

Newsday might be wrong about the possibility of a face-off between Sarah Palin and Tina Fey, but Chevy Chase, who brilliantly spoofed Gerald Ford on SNL 30 years ago, actually did have the chance to meet the former president. Chase wrote about the meeting, which occurred while he was being treated for alcoholism (coincidentally) at the Betty Ford Center, for the New York Times. He wrote that there were no hard feelings, and that the two shared some good laughs.

Both former President George H.W. Bush and current President George W. Bush have provided SNL actors with plenty of material in the last 20 years. Dana Carvey shed “a thousand points of light” on important issues for viewers quite frequently, portraying George Bush Sr. Watch a montage of Carvey’s work on JibJab.

A few years later, Will Ferrell took over to make a complete mockery of George Bush Jr. He’s been so successful with his sketches that he was invited to appear as the president at a Comedy Central benefit for autism education in April 2008. Ferrell gladly appeared with “dignification” and chatted with the evening’s host comedian, Jon Stewart. Watch the video on The Huffington Post, and hear some of the “president’s” thoughts on leaving office.

Related Topic: Politicians spoof themselves

Chase noted in his New York Times piece that he was famous for creating an impression of Ford as clumsy, and although it got laughs, his mockery wasn’t based on much fact. However sometimes politicians do a sufficient job of embarrassing themselves. Browse through findingDulcinea’s collection of campaign gaffes to see for yourself.

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