Satire That Closed Opening “Saturday Night”
George S. Kaufman famously defined “satire” as “what closes on Saturday night”. The most recent example of this was Saturday Night Live‘s cold open last weekend, a parody campaign commercial in which Bill and Hillary Clinton discuss their wealth.
The sketch begins deflating before it even gets going. Darrell Hammond’s Bill Clinton is looking, distractingly, off camera — as if, before he says his first line, he wants to be somewhere else. (And, in fact, he had the only funny lines in the long 2 minutes.)
The whole point of the piece is tendentious —that the “news” of the Clintons’ wealth was already well and widely known— and comedy that tries to make a point, instead of trying to be funny, usually ends up pinioned on its own petard. The cold open a couple of weeks ago mocking the media’s Obama fawning and favoritism became an instant classic because it mocked it by parodying it. This cold open dies aborning with Hillary’s cumbersome set up: “Once again, through dogged research and tireless investigation, the press has done its job.”