News + Notes

Poli Sigh

Once a haven of smart political humor, SNL is as lifeless as it is dumb.

Saturday Night Live: venerable source of irreverence, or Jay Leno with multiple-personality disorder? Once, we had Dan Aykroyd's psychotically furtive Richard Nixon and Phil Hartman's perfectly smarmy Bill Clinton. SNL could be mining the current living-room war with explosive impersonations and wicked ''Weekend Update'' sallies. But, taking examples from April 12's episode, let's avoid the Saturday Night Dead cliche and go for accuracy: Live, from New's just toothless and spineless!

00:01 Horatio Sanz plays Saddam as a harmless, jovial idiot, repeating ''I'm not dead!''

43:20 Tina Fey giggles at her limp Iraqis-are-looting joke. Jimmy Fallon bombs comparing ''Chemical Ali'' to a ''Chemical Frazier.'' Darrell Hammond as Iraq's minister of information orders Fey to ''surrender.'' Oh, I get it: The Iraqi regime isn't death-dealing -- it's just deluded.

1:27:00 Fred Armisen as Uday Hussein in campaign ad: ''Why elect the less competent son of a former president? Well, you guys did it!'' Subtext: The war is ''over,'' so America is free to risk a tame little Bush dig. Which SNL writer has the cojones to wake up Lorne Michaels and tell him to start watching Jon Stewart for pointers?

Originally posted Apr 25, 2003 Published in issue #706-707 Apr 25, 2003 Order article reprints

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