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Election 2008

How to Make Fun of Barack Obama

Bill Radke

Suzie Lechtenberg

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The Real Deal
(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty)
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Bill Radke: What's funny about Barack Obama?

Amber Ruffin: It might not be that Barack Obama is a hilarious figure, it might be that what we think of him has become kind of outlandish.

Ithamar Enriquez: I think our jobs as satirists and comedians are, even if you find something perfect like that, you still have to find one little nugget that you can exaggerate and make fun of. It's a challenge but that's part of the job.

What did you think of Lorne Michael's take that Obama is too heroic to be funny?

Ruffin: Maybe who he is, isn't necessarily funny, but I honestly believe that sooner or later something is going to come out. I mean, he did coke for Pete's sake. You can always go there.

Do you go there in your show?

Enriquez: There was a scene where that was briefly mentioned by someone playing Hillary Clinton. And then we kind of come back with, 'Well, he's still really perfect so we'll let that slide by.' Which people do. And that's another aspect that we find funny. There's little things that people are like, 'That's ok. He's still really perfect and no matter what you say, he's my dream boat. He's going to do just fine.'

Right, they call that Teflon, don't they?

Enriquez: (laughs) I think so, I believe so.

How much is the funny limited by political correctness because of his race?

Ruffin: I think you get some permission to make fun of the race aspect when one of your cast members is black and another is gay and another is Hispanic. It kind of gives you permission to say whatever you want.

So, Amber and Ithamar, leaving aside your personal politics, purely as comedians, who are you rooting for in this election?

Ruffin: Barack Obama.

Why?

Ruffin: Because we've just had years and years of making fun of someone in a terrible way. It feels easy and done, you know. Let's do something new.

Enriquez: Yeah, I don't know, I think I would take a different stance. I understand what Amber is saying, but for me, as a professional, if McCain or Hillary takes it, it would definitely give us a good running start of finding things to make fun of. But the challenge is also very enticing, of trying to come up with something for someone who's looked upon as being very perfect and heroic, to find ways to satirize.

Ruffin: It's a challenge!

Enriquez: It is, exactly!

Amber and Ithamar, thank you and good luck on stage tonight.

Ruffin: Oh, thank you.

Enriquez: Thanks a lot. Take care.

More stories from our Election 2008 series

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