By Maureen Dowd
“SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” writers have devastatingly lampooned Mitt Romney as a corny, coreless candidate.
“I don’t think it’s going to be as much fun as 2000 and 2008,” Jim Downey, the show’s inimitable satirist, told me. “When you have an incumbent president, it’s not wholly new. And because of the long Republican primary debate stretch, I’m already tired of Romney. I wish there could be a crazy brokered convention with someone we’ve never heard of to keep it fresh. But you don’t get a gift like Sarah Palin very often, and I’m sure it’ll never happen again.”
You’re telling me.
“Comedy writers are incredibly promiscuous, and we want as many targets as possible,” agreed Seth Meyers, the clever “S.N.L.” head writer and “Weekend Update” anchor. “We really slowed down in the second four years of Bush.”
Stuck with a Tin Man-versus-Spock race, the writers perk up at the thought of Romney’s picking the crackling Chris Christie as his running mate. But Mitt seems too programmed to risk his hard-won chance at the brass ring on a brassy partner who might overshadow him.
Two of the most hallucinatory moments in “S.N.L.” history came in 2008, when Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and the real Palin sashayed past each other, and when John McCain roguishly appeared in a skit with Fey’s Palin going rogue.
“Sarah Palin was a once-in-a-lifetime situation,” Meyers marveled. “She was incredibly magnetic and came with a built-in catchphrase.”
She, like Joe Biden, inspires what Meyers calls “wet comedy” (as opposed to dry), and they both have what Downey calls “handles,” quirks of speech and personality that both writers and performers can latch onto.