“I Can See Russia From My House!”

Not Sarah Palin
Not Sarah Palin

According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

It’s looking more and more likely that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will appear on ”Saturday Night Live” — to have some fun with Tina Fey.

(Read the full story here.)

When I first heard about this little stunt, I didn’t realize there was a Saturday Night Live connection. Instead I thought this was going to be some painfully unfunny McCain campaign spoof or video like this one. Mercifully it seems the SNL writers will be involved in crafting the sketch.

But does that make it a good idea?

When I was growing up, I was always told to ignore people who were making fun of me. I got so good at it in fact I elevated turning the other cheek into an art form. But getting teased on the playground is small potatoes, and even if I didn’t ignore a taunt or two and got in a jab of my own, the stakes were pretty small. The stakes for spoofing the spoofer in Palin’s case, though, are much higher. Not to mention the fact of what does she have to gain?

If she and the campaign do nothing, all we’re left with are a few devastatingly funny sketches which exaggerate and parody the candidate’s positions. Tina Fey’s mimicry of Sarah Palin, while spot on, probably hasn’t flipped or influenced a single vote one way or another. But if Palin tries to impersonate Fey, even with the help of SNL writers, she risks coming off like a bully who can’t take a little criticism. Worse, she may be unfunny.

Tina Fey’s impersonation is funny because there are so many tics of Palin’s-verbal and visual-which cry out to be imitated. Palin, on the other hand, isn’t given as rich a canvas with which to work. Tina Fey’s writing is witty and intelligent, and her acting on 30 Rock is terrific, but not memorable. You could probably substitute a younger Julia Louie Dreyfus for Tina Fey and end up with almost the same character. So, what will Palin channel to spoof Fey’s behavior? Will she be reduced to rolling her eyes and snarfing?

I have a feeling the cheers will come merely from Palin’s presence on the show, not from her performance. But, by showing up she elevates the importance of the original sketches and their jabs at Palin’s inexperience and lack of ability to something approximating truth else why would the campaign feel it had to respond to them?

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