First Lady Michelle Obama, played by Maya Rudolph, makes her debut on Saturday Night Live as part of her ongoing campaign against childhood obesity, making an address to the nation to announce “The Obama Show,“ a new comedy to further encourage fitness and healthy eating. The show was a take-off on “The Cosby Show” in which Fred Armisen’s President Obama impersonation trying to emulate Bill Cosby, and Jason Sudeikis as Joe Jamal-Biden — a cross between the vice president and former Cosby star Malcolm Jamal Warner. Watch Michelle convince Barack to eat a rice cake over a hoagie, via NBC:
I must admit, I found the skit on New York Governor Patterson hilarious but apparently he failed to see the humor in a “Saturday Night Live” skit that he felt mocked his blindness. During the “Weekend Update” segment of NBC’s irreverent comedy show, actor Fred Armisen played Paterson, imitating his wandering eye, gravelly voice and blunt, self-effacing demeanor.
Paterson and advocates for the visually impaired did not find stock blind jokes that had Armisen pretending to be disoriented and wandering aimlessly.
“I can take a joke,” Paterson told reporters. But he called the SNL spoof a “third-grade depiction of people and the way they look” that could lead others to believe that “disability goes hand-in-hand with an inability to run a government or business.” “I run the place I work in, so I don’t have to be worried about being discriminated against,” noted Paterson
Even though Paterson is legally blind and has aides help him with some tasks, it seems that he is rarely out of step with his surroundings and seems comfortable in virtually all settings.
The joke continued even after Armisen’s sketch with “Weekend Update” co-anchor Seth Meyers, was complete. As longtime “SNL” player Amy Poehler was announcing her departure from the show, Armisen’s Paterson started wandering, as if lost, in front of the camera. “Gov. Paterson . . . you’re in the shot!” a chuckling Poehler said. I am sorry, but I found it funny.
The skit could leave viewers with the impression that blind Americans cannot be competent employees, advocates for the disabled said.
“When you have a perception problem like we have, you take these things a little more seriously,” said Chris Danielsen, spokesman for the National Federation of the Blind. “We have 70 percent unemployment – and it’s not because we can’t work. Obviously, the governor of New York is blind, and he’s doing the job. Whenever you have a portrayal that calls the basic capacity of [blind people] into question, that’s a potential problem.”
This isn’t the first time “Saturday Night Live” has made fun of the blind. They have done skits on Stevie Wonder and I can’t recall hearing anyone complain about that. They have portrayed presidents as bumbling idiots and womanizers. Take Sarah Palin, for example, they portrayed her as an idiot with no clue about foreign policy, among other things. Okay, I understand why the blind among us would take offense to this. I guess it is much the same as when blacks stereotyped, but I think this was in good fun. Wait, didn’t I hear that Stevie Wonder was being considered for “Dancing With the Stars?”