Column: Palin Is A Miracle For SNL, But Not For America

This story was written by Casey Northcut, Murray State News

For the past several years, something has been missing from my Saturday nights. I still shun society past 10:30 p.m. and switch on the television to hear the sound of jazzy saxophones.

I still snuggle up with a blanket, anticipating the moment when the game show voice of Don Pardo announces, "Live from New York, it's Saaaturday niiight" like the entire country has just won the lottery. That NBC staple still has enough magic in its quick-witted comedy to make me turn the television to Channel Six like a weekend job.

Recently, the skits just haven't been the same. I haven't laughed quite so much at the opening monologues and I haven't been particularly impressed by the presidential impersonations. The fast-paced zaniness that marked episodes 10 years ago has fallen flat, making me nostalgic for sketches with gold shorts, singing opera stars and Robert Goulet. It's just depressing.

Sarah Palin is NBC's new hope. She might be a scary choice for vice president, but she sure makes great SNL fodder. Once she appeared out of frozen obscurity to join the Republican ticket, she simultaneously shot McCain's campaign into the headlines and gave Tina Fey the opportunity for a brilliant performance.

Not only do the two resemble each other with an uncanniness found only in Olsen movies, but she also provides Fey with an inexperienced background, a wealth of quirky mannerisms and a funny accent to play with. It's like the show enlisted fate as a producer.

"Saturday Night Live" has already produced three epic skits with material provided by the Alaskan governor. There was the opening bit involving Fey as the Republican candidate and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. Poehler played the former first lady who futilely sacrificed a portion of her life for a chance at the presidency, and Fey played the hockey mom who sacrificed very little and still achieved more than Clinton.

I felt like the show's writers interviewed each woman, analyzed their psyches and blew everything way out of proportion. It was perfect.

Then Palin gave the show another gift when she agreed to an interview with Katie Couric. The interview was painful to watch, as she stumbled over words and lost her train of thought, but Fey's parody was downright beautiful. It moved me.

If you've been keeping up with my blog (which I will shamelessly say can be accessed at blogs.thenews.org), you'll know I have yet to choose who I will be voting for in November. I have determined, however, Sarah Palin could never take over this country - even if she is practically neighbors with Putin.

On a whimsical day, I imagine her wearing a fishing hat and giving the Russian president obscure advice like Wilson on "Home Improvement." But that's only on a whimsical day. Any other time, I don't feel as optimistic.

But the silver lining in Palin's candidacy is if McCain gets elected and she becomes his No.1, she will surely improve the quality of one of my favorite television shows. She has already turned the tide of the season, which should get better as political drama adds spice to the sketches. For that contribution, I will be forever grateful.