SNL kicked off with a skewering of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The episode also featured unfunny spoofs of blind NY governor David Patterson by non-African American cast member Fred Armisen. There are rumors that SNL may finally hire an African-American actor to portray President Elect Barack Obama. Some people have dubbed African-American Keenan Thompson's SNL performances as a "minstrel act". UPDATE : NY Governor David Patterson has spoke out about the SNL skit that made fun of his blindness. Maybe SNL should get the memo that making fun of people with disabilities just isn't funny.
"I can take a joke," Paterson told reporters.
But he called the SNL spoof a "third-grade depiction of people and the way they look" that could lead others to believe that "disability goes hand-in-hand with an inability to run a government or business." source
I didn't get a chance to see the entire episode of Saturday Night Live this weekend, but I came across a segment clip from NBC's website that made my blood curdle. SNL's guest this week was the young actress of Juno fame, Ellen Page, whose comedic timing proved powerful yet equally disturbing in a piece with Keenan Thompson, the only black member of the cast (Maya Rudolph, who is half black-American, half white Jewish, identifies as multiracial), entitled "Virginiaca Goes to Baby Gap." You can see the full video of the sketch here, but I'll give you a little re-cap:
An overweight black woman who, only for lack of a better term, would be characterized as "ghetto" stumbles out of breath into a Baby Gap store (as it's on the second floor) with a pastry in hand. She practically sexually harasses the Baby Gap employee (played by Adam Samberg). Her step-daughter, played by Ellen Page, corn-rowed, permed, and wearing a tracksuit, enters the store, demanding to try on spandex pants she'd like to wear as booty shorts. Angered that the Baby Gap employee won't allow her to try on the pants for fear that she'll stretch out the merchandise (as it's meant for BABIES), Page's character and Virginiaca name drop (as Virginiaca's new husband is a wealthy white aluminum tycoon, the daughter of whom she has clearly "corrupted") in hopes of getting their way. After a slew of aural and visual stereotype guest appearances (including the "booty back and forth" dance and repeated overt and unwanted flirting with the sales guy), the segment ends with the sales person quitting and Virginiaca in all fours on a merchandise stand continuing her "booty back and forth" dance in the store. source
While SNL has engaged in black/brownface before, including having light-skinned Latino Fred Armisen play presidential hopeful Barack Obama, and Darrell Hammond play Jesse Jackson and Geraldo Rivera,they were impressions, albeit good ones, and I never found offense in having the best cast members for the job portray important members of our society who happened to have darker skin than theirs. Yet when I saw the "Shopping with Virginiaca" sketch, which apparently is a regular segment on the show, I felt something different. Keenan Thompson, though black, was performing a blackface minstrelsy routine that went far beyond basic impressions of famous people. He was poking fun, sure, but in a way that ultimately cements what black women are and how we are viewed by the general public.
Amy Poehler's final goodbye on Saturday Night Live and Kanye West's live performances. It's kind of a bummer that the funniest SNL female cast members get the boot after having a baby ie Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey and now Amy Poehler.
If you were wondering how NBC's "Saturday Night Live" was going to take down Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who became a national joke this week with his arrest by federal agents on corruption charges, the answer came in the show's cold open. Blago, as portrayed by Jason Sudeikis, a veteran of Chicago's improv scene, morphed into a David Mamet character, a foul-mouthed con man with a quasi-Chicago accent. Obviously, it was a caricature. The real Blagojevich doesn't have a quasi-Chicago accent. When the actual governor is on tape, swearing up a storm as he seems to be putting President-elect Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat up for auction, it almost dared "SNL" to try to come up with something more over-the-top. So Sudeikis' Blagojevich was trying to squeeze kickbacks out of a Senate committee and offering to sell them Abraham Lincoln's wedding ring (and skeletal hand) while Patti Blagojevich, Kristen Wiig playing Bonnie to Sudeikis' Clyde, sought a job with NASA. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (Casey Wilson) called Blagojevich a disgrace to Illinois, then reconsidered: "Well, maybe not to Illinois, but if you were a governor of any other statem you would be a disgrace to that state." source
When Poehler dropped her trademark smirk to announce her departure from the show, she got all soft and genuine and grateful, and I kinda wanted to leap through the TV and give her a big ole hug for so many years of snarky giggles. That is until Fred Armisen, as visually impaired New York Gov. David Patterson, wandered into Poehler's shot, and, like Poehler herself, I found myself overcome with snarky giggling. Of course, since SNL alums seem so happy to drop in on the show -- like Maya Rudolph appearing last night for one final round of gum-smacking gossip on 'Bronx Beat' with Poehler -- this most likely really isn't the last time we'll see Poehler grace Studio 8H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Kanye West Saturday Night Live Performances
Kanye West - Love Lockdown LIVE
Kanye West - Heartless / Pinocchio Story LIVE