'SNL': It's time to replace Fred Armisen as Barack Obama

After watching last night’s SNL — woohoo! one laugh per half-hour! at least Jason Mraz sounds great live, though, no? — I present the following pop quiz!

Fred Armisen’s impersonation of President Barack Obama (embedded below):

A. Fails miserably at capturing Obama’s physical mannerisms and characteristics (except maybe his ears).
B. Sounds more like "Fred Armisen" than "Barack Obama."
C. Seems to have been written in a room where laughter goes to die. ("Mayor of Bummer City"? Seriously?)
D. Is like a neon sign pointing to the lack of diversity in SNL‘s cast.
E. Signals it’s time for a snack break/the DVR fast-forward function.
F. Is performed as if even Armisen knows it’s abysmal.

Weigh in below, and be sure to click here and catch Ken Tucker’s shout out to the surprising MVP of last night’s SNL telecast.

More on ‘SNL':
Angelina Jolie saves ‘SNL’ last night
‘SNL': A week behind the scenes

Comments (108 total) Add your comment
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  • John Anderson

    No one complains that Darrel Hammond plays Jesse Jackson; this is because he is funny. Maybe the problem is not with a lack of diversity, but rather a lack of talent with the cast of SNL.

  • Laura

    Jason Mraz always sounds great live — better than on recordings. He was one of the only bright spots in the entire 90 minutes of last night’s show.

  • Mike

    I vote for all of the above. His impression isn’t an impression at all. Terrible

  • LB

    I totally agree, the cast needs some more diversity and a major dose of funny. I will say, though, that I laughed out loud at the Nolan Ryan joke.
    (Also, Laser Cats 4? I know the Lonely Island guys are working on an album, can we hear/see more of that?!)

  • Amanda

    Armisen’s Obama seems to get worse and worse, but Jason Sudekis cracks me up as Biden.

  • Luisa

    Yeah, SNL is getting pretty pathetic. Though I do find Jason Sudeikis as Biden totally hilarious. He gets that almost-creepy-always-smiling look just right. Otherwise, the only time I laughed was new girl as Angelina Jolie. Good thing Jason Mraz was performing. I’m not a big fan, but he has an AWESOME voice, highlight of the night.

  • meg

    He beat out Wyatt Cynac of the Daily Show. How is that possible?

  • Maggie

    Armisen is Japanese, Venezuelan & German. He is diversity. I think he does OK as Obama. It’s just that Obama hasn’t shown any traits that can be reduced to a comedy caricature. Thank God for Biden and his big mouth!

  • Ned

    Do you really think Obama has mannerisms that, if captured perfectly, would result in laughter? No, he doesn’t.

    • Matthew

      I’ve seen better impressions of Obama. Everyone has mannerisms. Obama has the way he emphasizes every point as if he’s making a civil rights speech. That could easily be exploited by a good impressionist (I.e. NOT Fred Armisen) to deliver ridiculous lines. The key to comedy is delivering something unexpected, which in Obama’s case would mean saying something ridiculous as if he were serious.

  • Ben from Flushing

    Two words for you: Jordan Peele. Watch this video and tell me it’s not one of the greatest presidential imitations you’ve ever seen – Obama or otherwise:

    LORNE: Find him and sign him to a 4-year contract with a 4-year option.

  • Lin

    I think Armisen captures Obama’s speech patterns quite well, actually. Compare to Amy Poehler, who got kudos for playing Hillary Clinton despite not looking, acting, or sounding the least bit like her. (She wore a brown wig, for Pete’s sake!) Perhaps the crux is that Obama’s so revered, no one WANTS to laugh at him.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, his mannerisms can be funny if done correctly. Exhibit A:

  • V

    What sucks is that the cast is great and totally hilarious (I think the best they’ve had in years)… but ONLY when they have the material. Their writers are not doing them justice at all.

  • Charlee

    Something was off. I’ve always thought his impression needs work, but last night he just sounded too much like himself than usual.
    Loved the Nolan Ryan joke though.

  • Ned

    Also, the attempted humor in the sketch is not “look how accurate this Obama impression is”. Instead, it’s about how he’s going to constantly be the bearer of bad news. There is absolutely NOTHING another actor could have done to gather more chuckles out of the material, short of using a borderline racist hip-hop patois (which is what all the “great” Obama impersonators are using).

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