'Saturday Night Live': We Had a Hard Time Finding Jokes in Wednesday's Debate

Given the shellacking Barack Obama took at last week's presidential debate with Mitt Romney, one would have thought NBC's Saturday Night Live would have had no difficulty finding material to spoof the event.

Not so according to New York magazine which published a piece Monday entitled "Unlike the Rest of the World, SNL Had a Hard Time Joking About the Debate":

In an unusual move, NBC allowed the New York Times to sit in on SNL's writing and rehearsal process last week. The paper reports that mining the debates for comedy was surprisingly difficult, and the sketch was nearly cut at the last minute.

It was "surprisingly difficult" to find jokes in that debate? Are you kidding?

Not according to the Times:

There were no big gaffes or obvious springboards for comedy. Instead, the first debate of this election offered up a blizzard of policy details and a lackluster performance from President Obama.

At home Wednesday night, Seth Meyers, one of the show’s head writers, watched with increasing concern.

“It’s boring enough when they’re talking about all this and how it will affect Americans, but when you’re sitting there trying to pull comedy out of it, it’s really bad,” Mr. Meyers said. “There were people on Twitter saying: ‘You must be really happy, there’s so much in this debate. This is writing itself.’ I was like: what debate are you watching?”


No - what debate were YOU watching, Seth?

But Meyers wasn't the only SNLer having problems finding material in Wednesday's debacle according to the Times.

"The job of turning the debate into comedy gold fell to Jim Downey, the longtime 'SNL' writer who has created the show’s debate parodies since the 1970s. This one, he said, was the hardest he had ever dealt with...'This was the toughest assignment I’ve ever had on one of these,' he said later."

Is it possible the folks at SNL are so in the tank for Obama they couldn't find anything funny about the horrendous job he did Wednesday?

The proof appears to be in the pudding, for the gang settled on a truly weak premise that the President was on the one hand totally preoccupied with having forgotten to get Michelle an anniversary present.

Also complicating matters for SNL's Obama played by Jay Pharoah was a little altitude sickness. This idea of course came from former Vice President Al Gore who speculated on Current TV Wednesday that this might have been the cause of the President's difficulties.

The net effect was a truly horrible opening sketch that lasted over seven minutes without one laugh:

Pretty pathetic.

Yet even more telling of SNL's haplessness is that the President himself was able to find a joke in his performance.

As NewsBusters reported Sunday, after noting the musical acts at his Hollywood fundraiser such as Jennifer Hudson, Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder "perform flawlessly night after night," Obama quipped to laughter and applause, "I can’t always say the same."

I guess the folks at SNL are more in the tank for Obama than Obama himself.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.