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Archive for Saturday, September 15, 2012

Can ‘SNL’ bring election laughs?

September 15, 2012

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Established stars Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg departed last May. They’ll be replaced by veterans of Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe: Cecily Strong, Tim Robinson and Aidy Bryant.

There had been some doubt that Jason Sudeikis would be back, but the “Hall Pass” star will return to the cast as the show’s imitator of both Vice President Joe Biden and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The election of 2008 was custom-made for “SNL,” a series where women comics had come to dominate. Amy Poehler had perfected her Hillary Clinton impersonation, and the surprise nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave Tina Fey the role of a lifetime. John McCain’s hot-tempered personality was also ripe for parody by Darrell Hammond.

President Barack Obama has always presented a problem for impersonators working in broad comedy. Fred Armisen has captured his lawyerly cadence, but the best Obama impressions come from Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele,” who don’t so much imitate Obama as imagine the inner rage that he keeps so well buttoned-down and bottled-up.

With so little to work with, the writing staff for “SNL” must be very thankful for Clint Eastwood and his peculiar empty chair routine at the Republican National Convention. That was a comedy writer’s dream: strange, unexpected, oddly scary, and a blend of politics and celebrity. Did I mention strange? But weird lightning like that doesn’t strike very often, so “SNL” has its work cut out for it if it wants to make this election seem remotely funny.

Tonight’s highlights

• TV Land offers a marathon of “The Cosby Show” (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday).

• Stanford hosts USC in college football (6:30 p.m., Fox).

• Michigan State hosts Notre Dame in college football (7 p.m., ABC).

• Professional aquarium builders help Neil Patrick Harris realize his vision on “Tanked” (8 p.m., Animal Planet).

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