‘SNL’ stumbles over portrayal of Biden | Columns

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Whatever problems the real Joe Biden faces with polls and politics, they are pale in comparison to what the fake Joe Biden characters suffer on “Saturday Night Live”.

When the NBC series returned for its 47th season, a new actor named James Austin Johnson attempted to portray Biden. His performance, to be diplomatic, was not very good. A hairpiece and a hoarse voice don’t make a persuasive parody.

SNL can’t seem to resolve its Biden issue. It’s confusing considering that the series helped invent the kind of mockery of incumbent presidents in 1975. It was the year that President Gerald Ford slipped down the steps of Air Force One, leading to the performance. memorable Ford, an accomplished college athlete and in no way means a klutz, like a bumbler and a stumble. This marked Ford and helped reduce his chances against Jimmy Carter the following year.

Every president since Ford has received the SNL treatment, but no Biden character has clicked. Indeed, the show went on for 255 days without portraying the current president in an opening skit – an unprecedented amount of time, suggesting that either the show can’t feature a good President Biden, or its producers don’t know. how far to go to mock him at a time when the nation is in the throes of political division.

“Broadway is back, and it’s exciting, isn’t it?” Johnson’s Biden said. “The Taliban too. Win some lose.

The lack of humor was compounded by the fact that Johnson didn’t look or sound the part. In Chevy Chase’s day it didn’t matter, but more recent TV impersonators used heavy makeup and facial devices to capture the look of a president, and the best of them nailed down aspects of the mannerism and speech.

It peaked with Donald Trump, the most imitated sitting president since the entire fiscal year began in 1962, with the impersonation of John F. Kennedy by comedian Vaughn Meader.

When Joe Biden was vice president, SNL featured a nifty Jason Sudeikis impersonation. During Biden’s presidential run, Woody Harrelson took a turn, with a toothy, straightforward portrayal of the headlines, followed by the controversial effort of Jim Carrey. Some thought that Carrey, while funny, was not convincing. A few commentators have gone so far as to suggest that Carrey’s character is dangerous as it could hurt Biden’s chances.

After the election, Jim Carrey disappeared from SNL, like almost all attempts to portray President Biden.

Arguably, SNL’s most successful presidential performance was Dana Carvey’s George HW Bush. As with his other characters, Carvey identified unique speech patterns and exaggerated them. But here’s the deal: Carvey is now doing Joe Biden better than anyone, as can be seen in his guest photos with Stephen Colbert. Why doesn’t SNL pay him what he wants to reprise the role?

Last March, President Biden fell on the steps of Air Force One. We know what Chevy Chase and the original SNL writers would have done with it, but the current group didn’t consider it worthy of a sketch. In its pale effort to mock the sitting president, SNL has stumbled ever since.

The Peter Funt column is distributed by the Cagle Cartoons newspaper union.


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