When Mitt Romney officially made the announcement that Paul Ryan would be his running mate, the usual questions regarding a VP candidate’s influence on the ticket ran through my head:
What is his experience?
What are his qualifications?
Does he have the ability to serve the nation as President if necessary?
Who will play him on Saturday Night Live?
I obviously put the most thought behind the last question. I couldn’t help it. Of course I care about the other three questions, but I assume they’ll be answered through the explosion of parodies and skits that is sure to come this fall. I mean that’s the real way we get to know our candidates, right? OK, well sometimes it definitely seems that way…how else was I supposed to know that Barack Obama is really Middle Eastern or that Sarah Palin is really Tina Fey?
The 2008 election is well-remembered for its hilarious SNL skits. In fact, the skits gained so much attention that in the month leading up to the election, NBC aired three SNL Weekend Update Thursday specials that were fully devoted to political parodies surrounding the 2008 election. Moreover, the skits became so popular that the actual candidates made guest appearances on the show. It was like they had no choice! It quickly became clear that these skits and impressions had a real influence on the election.
This time around, the candidates are prepared for the parody mayhem that is sure to ensue. Does the thought (perhaps worry) of the impending influx of skits and impressions affect the candidates’ decisions now? I imagine that it does. Comedic impersonators can exaggerate the candidates’ mistakes and quirks and even put words in their mouths. Candidates (and their staffers) now have the task of trying to prevent the comedians from saying anything seriously harmful to their campaign and of being able to easily dismiss any unfavorable messages. The first step in this may be finding a running mate who isn’t so “quirky”.
Let’s be honest—the Sarah Palin impressions totally stole the show during the 2008 election season. Palin was almost too easy to impersonate. 1) She’s from Alaska. It’s a pretty “obscure” state that many Americans aren’t as familiar with, so, it is likely their knowledge of The Last Frontier is largely based on popular culture and stereotypes. 2) She has a distinct accent. 3) She bears a striking resemblance to SNL veteran Tina Fey. Writers had a lot of material to work with. Paul Ryan (at least so far) has not provided them with the same kind of ammo. There’s still time, of course, but look at the guy. Look at all of the candidates and their running mates. Do any of them have that “character” quality that Sarah Palin has?
The weight that the parodies, skits, and impressions have on public opinion makes me wonder if “ability to be portrayed positively when parodied” has become one of the criteria a Presidential candidate looks for when selecting his running mate. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, there is definitely no denying that these parodies do have a legitimate effect on people’s views of candidates and their running mates.
Anywho, to finally answer the question “Who will play Paul Ryan on SNL?”, I’m placing my bet on Taran Killam. I can’t say that is a completely impartial opinion, though…I was (still am) a HUGE fan of the movie Stuck in the Suburbs…