SNL skewered Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the stimulus plan via a satire that could reflect a growing perception that might not be helpful to the Democrats. The big news: it centered on the assumption that Pelosi is a mega-partisan who looks down on bipartisanship and is actually a stumbling block to it. Some cartoonists are already having a field day with this theme (see cartoon below).

The great comedy coach Greg Dean told me in some of my private sessions with him in my other incarnation that a joke is a “shattered assumption.” The joke or bit will die if the audience doesn’t share at least some of the assumptions behind it. That’s why watching SNL and late night comedians gives you a clue to a growing conventional wisdom (which may or may not be accurate but it’s out there…and growing).

And Pelosi — and the Democratic party — should ponder the perceptions this skit reflects:

h/T Mark Halperin

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
Leave a replyComments (8)
  1. river February 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Shattered assumption. . .that is rich.

  2. wlpeak February 8, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I don’t agree that this was a skewering of Nancy & Harry or a harbinger of a changing perception of the democrats.

    I think most democrats, thus most journalists and comedians, will view this as a put down on the hypocrisy of the republicans for embracing partisanship when convenient. I don’t think that’s what actually happened, but that was the main message put in Nancy’s mouth.

    Also, because she never gets as crazy in the skit as she does in actual interviews I conclude the writers saw her main comedic flaw as a overwhelming enthusiasm overcoming decorum and thus Harry’s repeated attempts to restrain her.

    I think Nancy was skewered and portrayed more negatively in the skits occurring during the primaries.

  3. Annoying Old Guy February 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that one shared assumption is that the GOP had a majority in Congress until 2008? I.e., for “the last eight years”?

  4. elrod February 8, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Actually, I thought Harry Reid’s “bipartisanship” looked more silly in this skit than did Pelosi’s hyper-partisanship. I suppose it’s in the eye of the beholder.

    Power in Washington lay with the Democratic party. It only makes sense for comedians to poke fun at this division within Democratic politics.

    It was a funny skit.

  5. daveinboca February 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Actually, Elrod, you might have gotten a hint of SNL’s tilt about six weeks ago with their skit lampooning Pelosi, Reid and especially Barney Frank vis-a-vis the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac scandal. Lorne & the crew are not buying the entitlement to a free home by forcing banks to support loans and the put-down, afterwards excised and apologized for, of some Jewish speculators [Madoff-related???] during the skit also should give pause to those thinking about how the pendulum is beginning to swing the other direction….

    As JG notes, these ideas are in the air and when Chris Dodd pontificates about crooked Wall Street and big bank bonuses while getting a VIP mortgage, the average Joe & Jane gag in disbelief. I remember a long time ago Chris Dodd’s daddy was censured by the Senate for using campaign funds for personal use—-back when the Senate actually policed its own members!

  6. rioguy February 9, 2009 at 3:10 am

    I didn’t see this skit as disparaging to the Democrats at all. It was funny because it contained all of the things we know that Reid and Pelosi want to say to the Republicans but can’t because they have to maintain civility on Capital Hill. Like we saw yesterday with Barbara Boxer accusing McConnel of theatrics. Its obvious the Dems are tired of the obstructionism of the Republicans who are set on blocking everything that comes their way. SNL should do a skit where the Dems propose a package agreeing with everything the Republicans want then watch the looks on Boener and McConnel’s faces when they can’t be negative.

  7. fredwickham February 10, 2009 at 12:26 am

    I guess we see what we want to see. I’m a democrat and I saw this as more damning of the republican point-of-view. As somebody mentioned, in the run-up to the election there seemed to be frequent pointed satire at the dems expense on SNL. And to give Sarah Palin an appearance — and go so easy on her — struck me as unusually partisan (for SNL).

  8. Michael Merritt February 10, 2009 at 1:24 am

    fred: I suppose you mean after all the segments that made her look like a complete idiot? And with the same kind of caricaturing that they’re doing here with Reid and Pelosi.

    I’m glad SNL is hitting all sides. It’s all too often that comedians only play one side or another. Though I’ll give Jon Stewart credit for hitting the media no matter who’s being stupid.