Boston — A powerful mix of politics and satire in Boston last night, as two of Saturday Night Live's best came to town. Comedian and SNL-alum Bill Murray was the star attraction, but it was veteran writer James Downey who earned the first amendment award at the Ford Hall Forum at Suffolk University.
Downey has been writing political skits for more than thirty years, influencing candidates, campaigns and voters. Both talked about satire and politics with our Andy Hiller.
Murray: "We went to work the same week at Saturday Night Live. I came to replace a guy named Chevy Chase, who went off to be a movie star. And Jim came…we don’t really know why Jim came.” (Laughs)
"I try to do political stuff that's not stupid. I don't try to be smart. As long as it's not stupid,” said Downey. You may not recognize Jim Downey, but you may certainly recognize his very smart political satire.
SNL Skit from 2000- Bush debates Gore:
Moderator: "Sum up in a single word, the best argument for his candidacy. Governor Bush?"
Bush: "Strategery." (laughs)
Moderator: "Vice President Gore?"
Gore: "Lock box." (laughs)
“If Saturday Night Live were voters only source of information," Hiller asked, "who would the next president be?” “Oh, I'm sure it would be Obama,” Downey said.
Hiller: “Because you guys are in the tank with him?”
SNL Skit from 2008 – CNN Obama debates Hillary Clinton:
Moderator: "Senator Obama, are you comfortable? Can I get you a pillow?"
Obama: "No thanks, I'm fine."
Downey: "I've never dealt with a political figure so smooth…he's probably our funniest president since JFK."
But Mitt Romney does not impress Downey:
“He reminds me of an awkward youth minister at a church picnic or something.”
Murray says politicians have become actors, easy to ridicule:
"They're trying to not offend just enough people to be elected," Bill Murray said.
Hiller: “Who do you respect more, comedians or politicians?
Murray: “You serious?…there are at least double handfuls of comedians that serve and actually relieve pain. Most politicians are a burden to all of us. Just a burden."
It’s funny and sad; there can be more truth in political jokes than in political speeches. And the make believe can be more believable than what politicians try to pass off as reality.
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