'SNL' Fades to Black, Dumps Its White Obama Impersonator

Tim Molloy of The Wrap reports that NBC’s Saturday Night Live is dumping its Caucasian Obama impersonator and going with a fully black Obama (cast member Jay Pharoah). Obama is half-black, so is Pharoah more authentically Obama-like?

Molloy found the whiteness was an obstacle: “Armisen's impersonation, while good, drew some raised eyebrows because Armisen is of Venezuelan, German and Japanese descent, while the president is African-American.  Pharoah, who is African-American, has stood out on SNL with impeccable impersonations of Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, and others.” SNL boss Lorne Michaels told The New York Times:

“Jay has been doing Obama in his act this summer, and Jay is coming into his own,” Mr. Michaels said. “I just thought it might be time to shake it up.” Mr. Armisen will still have an enormous amount to do, Mr. Michaels said, describing that 10-year player as “the backbone of the show now.”

The Times also underlined that Obama is hard to satirize, at least for the liberals and Obama bundlers at NBC/Comcast:

Mr. Michaels acknowledged that Mr. Obama has been a challenge. What is his comedy hook? “So far we haven’t found it. My joke is always that he’s the first Canadian president,” said Mr. Michaels, a Toronto native. “He wants to think it through, do it in the fairest way possible and be thoughtful. And be a little distant, which I totally identify with, obviously.”

SNL premieres Saturday with guest host Seth MacFarlane, one of America's leading trashers of religion. That's an interesting choice after this week's furor over anti-Muslim videos and freedom to denigrate other religions.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis