Tina Fey, known for her infamous impersonation of 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, doesn’t think the political sketches on “Saturday Night Live” have much of a real impact when it comes to swaying public opinion.
The former “Weekend Update” anchor who was this week’s guest on “David Tennant Does a Podcast With,” said she’s’ “glad” she’s no longer on “SNL” given the increased demands the current news environment has put on the show’s writers.
“I feel relieved,” said Fey, who served as head writer from 1999 to 2006. “The culture is so ugly and the political climate is so ugly. We would always have everybody on because you could. You’d have Bush Sr. come do a thing with Dana Carvey … It’s so truly ugly now.”
Nobody on the “SNL” staff had heard of Palin before. It wasn’t until Fey’s husband, composer and producer Jeff Richmond, saw the then-governor of Alaska on a magazine cover that the future 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee got on Fey’s radar.
Richmond saw the physical resemblance, though she begged to differ.
Fey recalled, “My husband said, ‘She looks like you.’ And I was like, ‘No, I don’t think so.” ‘
Though her Palin impression is now part of political pop-culture history and gets trotted out during every”SNL” election special, Fey doesn’t believe it accomplished much other than highlighting existing ideas about the person she was impersonating.
“I don’t think that show can really sway people,” she said. “I think you can shine a light. You can help them articulate something they’re already feeling about a given person.”
Remember when Palin herself made a cameo in October 2008? Fey wasn’t too keen on the idea.
“I didn’t want (‘SNL’ creator Lorne Michaels) to have her on and I didn’t want to be in (on camera) with her,” she told Tennant.
Why not? “I just thought, ‘Oh, well, that’s what they’ll show when I die,’ ” she joked.
As for Palin falling from prominence, Fey says she has only herself to blame, not the show.
“I think she was the nail in her own coffin, ultimately,” the Emmy winner said. “But I think it shined a light on something.”
Recalling that Palin had emerged from the 2008 Republican National Convention “a real shining star,” the show went into her appearance “wanting to make sure that we were very fair, that we weren’t just swinging, throwing punches.”
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