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Marianne Paskowski

Critics Blast ‘SNL’ Paterson Parody

December 15, 2008 11:17 AM

The National Federation of the Blind found nothing funny about Saturday’s “Weekend in Review” skit on “Saturday Night Live,” where show cast member Fred Armisen did his impression of New York Gov. David Paterson, who is blind and has admitted to doing drugs in his youth.

The Paterson parody was puerile. Even Paterson, who is known for his sense of humor, told the New York Daily News that he found it offensive.

He said only 37% of disabled people are working, and that he and the NFB fear the skit reinforces the stereotype that blind people are not capable of holding jobs.

“SNL’s” skit was off-putting to me. He sat at the desk appearing confused, not knowing where to look at the cameras, and held up a sign upside-down.

To make matters worse, later Armisen, still portraying Paterson, stumbled about looking lost when another “SNL” cast member, Amy Poehler, made an official announcement that she was leaving the show.

So let’s give “SNL” some fodder for future parodies. Here’s my vote: How about a skit on former financier Bernie Madoff, who was arrested last Friday for allegedly stealing $50 billion from his clients.

Any other ideas for the SNL writers?


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Comments (28)

David Cohen:

Wow ... I love tasteless stuff, but that was really, really bad. And it wasn't even funny.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi David,
I can understand SNL going after the Ill. gov for allegedly trying to sell Obama's Senate seat, but going after Paterson was stupid at best and mean-spirited at worst.

There is nothing funny about disabilities....m


Relax people. I found it funny. I didn't see it as making fun of all blind people. It was more about a guy put in a position he wasn't prepared to handle or probably not qualified for. He does happen to be blind. But the comical situation probably still would have been addressed whether he was blind or not. Where they supposed to pretend he wasn't?

If you watch the show on a regular basis, you will also know that Fred Armisen does this type of thing frequently as a Weekend Update guest, no matter who he is doing the impression of...including the walking in front of the camera as if lost & bewildered part. This time it just happened to be a blind guy he was imitating. The PC police sounded their alert and everybody is suddenly offended...when in fact he was being mocked just like the people without disabilities before him. Sounds like people want the opposite of what they are asking for...special treatment.

I wonder how many people cried out when Eddie Murphy did his skit where he played Stevie Wonder driving a car on SNL back in the day.

Relax people. There was a point in this sketch, and you were too blinded by the blind jokes to see what the real message and humor was.


One other comment/question: The title of this article says "critics blast...parody". Um...what critic? I didn't see any quoted in this article.

I saw that the The National Federation of the Blind blasted it. Are they official critics?

I saw that Paterson blasted it. It was about him after all. Is he a critic? I thought he was a state governor.

I saw the writer of this article blasting them.

But no official critics. Unless she is taking the "everybody is a critic" to heart. But everybody is not an official critic.

This article and the writer lose credibility when they use lines to hook you in that aren't true.

Sounds like she was offended and wants the world to be on her side.

According to this writer's rule of who a critic is...weren't the studio audience members critics then too? I did hear an awful lot of laughs coming from them.

Not everybody is blasting it. So far...just the two listed in the article, the writer, and the two comments underneath...5 people (not critics) are blasting it.

Some fodder for future articles: get quotes from actual critics

I am the first person to have a laugh on myself, however, I am not walking around with a disability common to millions of my countrymen who could possibly be hurt by a parady of a stereotypical lack of an ability.

I have said for years that it is long overdue for Lorne to go-to-pasture. He has made an amazing contribution, but the show lacks a fresh direction. Some wonderful performing talent without much in the way of great material...and that is due to the direction from the top.

Hey, Zucker, another chance for you to "Get it", refresh management at SNL!
Peter Bright

Marianne Paskowski:

Mr Sitcom,

Yes, we all know David Paterson, second in command, got the NY gov job because of the Spitzer scandal.

Yes, Paterson was catapulted into his new role suddenly.

So what if he's blind? The timing, late, and the point of this skit, as you insist, also late, was just inane.

What was the point with all the other stuff going on in the world?

You raise, however, an interesting point. And that is do people with disabilities really ask for special treatment?

And the answer is no. For years, at Grand Central Station I was always amazed to watch blind people and seeing eye-dogs learning how to maneuver on their own. Touching.

And blind people do suffer discrimination. I met a blind man on the train, out of state, an AT&T executive with a seeing eye dog.

I helped him hail down a cab. You wouldn't believe how many cabbies wouldn't pick him up because of the dog.

I jumped into the cab with him and his dog and insisted the cabby get him to his appointment.

That, in part, Mr. Sitcom is why I was offended. Not funny at all.

Marianne Paskowski:

Mr. Sitcom,

You again:) A critic is anyone who doesn't agree with you, I was not speaking about TV critics perse.

So you see, you, too are a critic, disagreeing with me and that's AOK, m

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Peter,

I've been watching SNL from the gitgo. It's always been spotty. Had a great run with the election, especially Sarah Palin.

Seems to me now, that the writers are struggling or are just not on top of geo-political-financial matters.

As the audience grows up, so should the writers. m


me again ;) Thanks for the response.

Still think it's a misleading title. Should have been "viewers criticize..." instead of "critics blast".

I have relatives that have disabilities...including my son. (My Grandmother was legally blind). They do ask to be treated as equals in many cases. But to your point, it wasn't discussed in this article.

I would have agreed with your point if the sketch focused only on him being blind. But it wasn't the focus, just a part of it...because the man is legally blind. Sure the upside down chart was a cheap and easy shot, but the gist was about the situation this man was put in. To quote the sketch:

"Whoever is appointed senator must, like me, be caught totally off-guard and be comically unprepared to take office.

I don't know how people remember this, but I was not supposed to be your governor. I kind of fell ass-backwards into this about 10 months ago due to a sex scandal that I was miraculously not the center of.

I'm a blind man who loves cocaine and was suddenly appointed governor of New York. My life is an actual plot from a Richard Pryor movie."

I think that was the gist of the sketch...a comical situation that is in the news.

Is he just off limits because he is blind?

Fred Armisen made many New Jersey jokes...are the New Jersey critics blasting those?

It was funny sketch. Again...people did laugh at it. I heard them again when I just re-watched it.

Jim Forkan:

Hi Marianne,
There were some funny moments in the Fred Armisen skit on Gov. Paterson, but a lot of tasteless ones. But then, SNL is no stranger to tastelessness -- like the younger part of its demo. Actually, Armisen's Paterson impersonation was better than his lackluster Obama.
Too bad SNL is off for a while. They could've had fun with Bush's "shoe-icide bomber," for one thing.

Marianne Paskowski:

Oy Sit,
You're quoting from the skit, not what Paterson ever said. Right?

So we agree to disagree. If you roam around, you'll see I'm not alone.

But I respect your opinion. My point, at the end of the blog was SNL needs more relevant topics and there are plenty out there.

I made my suggestion, where's yours? Would really love that input from you.


Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Jim,
Now we're talking, love your idea of two protesters in Iraq and Afghanistan throwing one shoe each at
Bush.Not a good thing, the ultimate sign of disrespect in those countries.

Let's see if SNL does anything with that...they should.

Merry Christmas Jim,


Hmmm. Thought I gave some input...not for SNL though. ;)

I'll come up with some topics for SNL if you want. But even though they don't hit home runs on everything. I enjoy the show currently.

But on a side note...I'm real tired of hearing the lazy critic say "SNL hasn't been funny in a long time". Even this year, when it's had it's highest ratings ever, and been labeled as influencing politics, and had millions of hits on their internet videos.

You might not like this sketch, and that's okay...as long as there are valid reasons. But one sketch with a few cheap shots doesn't make the whole show worthless.

They must be doing something right. The professional critics have been giving them kudos this year too. Plenty out there to find if you want to look.

Marianne Paskowski:

For God's sake I love the show, been watching it for 25 years, but this one was a dud.

And so you think this blog is, too, albeit. I have no problem with this, just waiting for your ideas about future skits! I bet they'll be great:)



My point isn't to come up with ideas...just defending the sketch in question.

The show is timely, so usually they talk on topics that are going on that week. If you want me to pick a topic this week...the shoe incident with President Bush would be a suggestion. But the PC police would be offended they are making fun of people from Iraq.

When the show comes back, I'll post topics that are ripe for mocking if you would like. I'm not sure what that's supposed to prove. But it seems important to you. So I'll try to bookmark this page and remember to come back and do it.

Jeff Mulligan:


Sometimes humor has to be cruel to be incisive and make a point. But SNL made no point in its David Patterson parody, except to show how desperate the show is to hold on to the lowest common denominator of the pre-adult demo.


Marianne Paskowski:


Guess we don't hit home runs all of the time, but SNL was on a roll during the election. This was a foul ball, m

I thought it was hilarious. The impression was dead-on, too.

Marianne Paskowski:

Yep,the physical impression was dead-on, but can't you understand why Paterson is sensitive about this?

As you know, I thought it was a cheap shot, m

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Sit,

Thanks for your input up here, you stirred up some folks, including me. Please feel free to keep coming back.

Now forget about SNL, what do you want me to write about next? I've got a gun to my head with a deadline, ugh.

I'm thinking about the possible SAG strike, any thoughts? A couple other aces up my sleeve, don't know.



Thanks for the invite to come back and comment on other topics. I'll do one final one on this topic...

You asked earlier what the point of this was at this time.

I think the whole message and timing is because Paterson wants the senate seat. SNL's message and comment was:

Paterson wasn't even supposed to be the Governor...and now he wants the Senate seat?

To be honest, I never heard of Paterson before this sketch and did not know about the situation, because I don't live in New York, and have other focuses in my life. But now...because of SNL, I am familiar with this person and the situation. It is very comical and was ripe for pointing out in a comical sketch.

This SNL sketch did not make me think blind people couldn't handle important jobs or change any views I have on blind people.

The only time the thought that blind people couldn't hand the job was when I heard it said is this blog and a few other sources that were offended by the sketch.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Sit,

Paterson became a household word only when Spitzer was forced to resign because of his hooker scandal.

Maybe you're spot on about SNL doing this to point out that Paterson wants Clinton's seat.

If that's the case, the message was lost on me. Now, on to the next blog.

So Sit if you have any ideas fire away, reader input is always welcome and glad to have you up here stirring things up.



I agree that it's in poor taste to make fun of someone with a disability. Oh well. It's SNL.

Do something about the possible SAG strike and how many studios are now working with the AFTRA instead of SGA. Also, there was an article I read (I think in the LA times), that had the former SAG president urging them not to strike and how bad it would be in the recession we are having.

Marianne Paskowski:

Man you are a mind reader. That's my next topic, think it would be an economic disaster if there were another strike.

Like can actors go to the Fed discount window? Doubt it. So keeping tabs on which talent is saying don't do it.

How's life at your parent company. Looks like the cable nets and not your division will weather the storm, bad pun, intended....m


I agree. I don't know how they could possibly think about going on strike now. It could be a disaster for our industry. In the article I mentioned earlier, there was a list of A-list actors/actresses that were against the strike.

Life at the parent seems somewhat stable, for now. Thank god we are a pretty diversified media company and are not so heavily reliant on the broadcast TV & local media. GE seems relatively happy with NBCU right now, well at least our cable properties (as you mentioned). Interesting article about that:


Marianne Paskowski:

Heard a commentator on CNBC refer to GE as a hedge fund with a light bulb factory. His words, not mine.
Think it got socked with a downgrade today.



Haha that's pretty funny, but unfortunately pretty true. Was that on Fast Money? I had it on at my desk while I was working, but got distracted with work. I think that bald guy (I forget his name) is pretty funny yet dead-on most of the time.

Marianne Paskowski:


Nope, someone I think on Closing Bell, and not a CNBC paid employee most of whom tend to tiptoe about reporting about GE.I love to look at their faces when they do.

Pete Mackey, I think is the bald guy and I like him, too. But Dylan Rattigan is my fave.

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