An evening with Lorne Michaels: SNL creator visits Bush Center
By Nati Bru
Live from Dallas… it’s Saturday Night!
This Saturday, greatness was witnessed. But not just any kind of greatness; the rare form of greatness that sits with his legs crossed, and with a stern smirk prepared for a line of questioning.
“Saturday Night Live” Creator and Executive Producer Lorne Michaels came to the George W. Bush Presidential Center Feb. 27.
Former President George W. Bush walked across the stage and introduced the man of the hour.
“I am confident, the writers are thrilled with today’s campaign,” Bush joked.
Michaels walked out with panel moderator Will Geist of NBC, and they took their spots.
“Are you sure you don’t want to run for a third term?” Geist said to the former president.
And then, the line of questioning began. Several topics were discussed, but the most important ones pertained to the media’s interaction with the presidency and campaigns. Michaels explained that most people who watch “SNL” are those who are middle aged and have a basic understanding of the news.
“Educating them about what’s going on, and being funny about it, is easier when they’ve already seen it,” Michaels said.
Geist asked what it took to make a good impersonation when it came to depicting a president. Michaels explained that every impersonation is based on an exaggeration of a truthful feature. He said that the best impersonators are those who capture the essence of an honest feature.
The Bush Center put together a montage of the best clips of presidential impersonations, which made the crowd laugh hysterically.
“Dana [Carvey] captured something no one else could. It’s much harder to do someone you don’t admire,” Michaels said of Carvey’s impersonation of President George Bush as he addressed the nation on the war in Iraq.
The crowd laughed especially hard when Michaels revealed that Sarah Palin‘s crazy resemblence to Tina Fey was brought to his attention by the doorman of his building.
Michaels noted that one must also know the appropriate time to laugh. After catastrophic events like 9/11 and the Paris Attacks, Michaels said sometimes the best way to honor the loss of loved ones is by making them laugh.
“One of our greatest strengths is that we make fun of our leaders and religion and our safety belt — be a country with a level of confidence,” Michaels said.
Throughout the event, audience members were hoping to get a sense of who Michaels was rooting for through this campaign season. While most were unable to detect his unbiased partisanship, he did mock Trump.
“Trump says things we are educated to not say,” he said.
Michaels said that there is still a long run until the election in November; however, everyone should be informed on the nation’s candidates, their policies and what each has to offer — even if it is portrayed in a comedic matter.
“Comedy is light hostility. You say what you want to say and it’s in bounds… without being rude or being unfair,” Michaels said.