‘SNL’ adds humor to campaign trail

Molly Schreiber

Throughout the past few months, the nation was electrified by the sense of urgency that accompanied the 2008 presidential race.

With a devastated economy, a vicious campaign and troops still at war, Americans were in desperate need of a good laugh.

Taking advantage of our political predicament, “Saturday Night Live” provided our nation with a perfect remedy.

With the epic return of Tina Fey, “SNL” has not only boosted ratings but lifted spirits.

With more than 17 million viewers and the best ratings since 1994, “SNL” has made comedic history.

While the sketches continue to impress, the question of election impact now comes into play.

Did Fey’s flawless impersonation of Sarah Palin affect voters on Tuesday?

Did John McCain’s willingness to poke fun at himself on air remind voters of the McCain of earlier years?

Or did our laughter remain separate from our politics?

With the tension on each side of the campaign mounting, “SNL” started its season two weeks early.

Poking fun at all parties involved, SNL writers pledged to spread their mocking evenly.

“The trick with all of these people is to try to come out as fair and evenhanded as possible,” said Seth Meyers, a primary writer and actor for the show.

Fairness, however, seems an ancillary concern in the skits.

An extraordinary amount of time and resources were dedicated to mocking the Alaskan governor and her past slip-ups.

Despite highlighting her inexperience and poor communication skills, the Palin camp adored the attention.

Perhaps abiding by the “any press is good press” rule, Palin’s spokesperson, Tracey Schmitt, told reporters that Palin “thought it was quite funny, particularly because she once dressed up as Tina Fey for Halloween.”

While the majority of the attention is paid to Fey’s impressions of the gun-toting Alaskan, Will Ferrell’s impression of George W. Bush and Darrell Hammond’s impersonation of John McCain reminded viewers of the comedic high point “SNL” experienced in the ’90s.

In addition to the return of key players, Amy Poehler’s weekly impressions of Hillary Clinton added humor and intelligence to the show.

Last weekend’s “Solid as Barack” skit allowed Fred Armisen to parody a hard-to-mock Barack Obama.

The musical montage included impressions of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and even Bill Clinton.

Genius sketches like these spurred and punctuated the even more hysterical appearances of the leaders themselves.

As Clinton, Palin, McCain and Obama took their turns on the show, Americans were given an opportunity their leaders in a new light.

With increasingly smart writing and a slew of political fuel to propel the material forward, the future of “SNL” looks bright.

In a cathartic sense, the humor of the show allows Americans to look at our plight from a different point of view.

While it is impossible to tell whether or not the skits impacted the way Americans voted, it seems unlikely that our leaders will ever be viewed the same way.

And, dontchaknow, sometimes a little comic relief is all we need.