How will -- or should -- 'Saturday Night Live' handle Muammar Gaddafi's reported death?


Image Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images

The life and reign of Muammar Gaddafi was no laughing matter, but the Libyan dictator — who died on Thursday when, according to, he was “killed by revolutionary forces who were finally able to overrun his hometown” — was often used as comedic fodder.

In fact, a handful of celebrity reactions today on Twitter about the news were jokes. Just see posts from Joel McHale (“Gadhafi caught! Is there nothing Boba Fett can’t do!”) and Michael Ian Black, who wrote “S—: now everybody is going to do my “Zombie Gaddafi” idea for Halloween.” (Colin Quinn opted to rile up his followers by tweeting, “Another great innovator who started in the 80’s and regained popularity recently has died. Say hello to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Khaddafi.”)

But perhaps there’s no one more adept at poking fun at Gaddafi than Fred Armisen, who has spent years imitating him on Saturday Night Live. The SNL vet’s cartoonish version of Gaddafi has become so popular on the sketch comedy show, it’s hard to remember a two-week span in which he didn’t make an appearance. (Interestingly enough, during the Oct. 1 episode, Armisen opted not to play Gaddafi for a Weekend Update sketch, rather a friend of the dictator who talked about him behind his back.) Watch a clip of Armisen as Gaddafi below:

So what will — or should – SNL do now that Gaddafi has passed? The death of a controversial figure hasn’t prompted the sketch comedy show to retire characters before. Case in point: The skits in the weeks that followed the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Armisen revived his bin Laden imitation for a last will and testament skit (his final requests included having Dakota Fanning as a pallbearer), while SNL, with host Tina Fey, spoofed The Little Mermaid with a scenario in which the cartoon characters come across the corpse of the slain terrorist leader in the ocean. Both skits were met with mixed reactions. Were they too soon? Spot on? Or simply not funny? Watch them again below:

Since SNL is currently on hiatus and won’t return until Nov. 5 when Charlie Day hosts, fans of the late night show can only guess and wait to see how they will approach the news. (SNL, on their part, is not yet commenting about whether or not it will bring back Gaddafi.) Should they let Armisen have one last go at playing Gaddafi or should they let it, for lack of a better word, die?

How do you think Saturday Night Live should handle Muammar Gaddafi’s death? With a joke on Weekend Update or a cold open with Armisen playing him one last time? How did you feel about they’ve approached these situations in the past? Share in the comments section below.

Read more:
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Comments (30 total) Add your comment
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  • Herman

    No matter what SNL does, it won’t be funny. So who cares? Armisen’s Quaddafi was never funny, and his Obama is much worse, almost cringeworthy.

  • Jean Vilain

    It would have been great if the new Superman or Avengers movies has a scene showing the title character(s) in Libya capturing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to ground the movie in reality but in light of the events of today, this is no longer possible.

  • LOL

    Osama bin Laden and Gaddafi in hell hanging out with Reagan would be perfect. Of course, SNL isn’t smart enough for that.

    • Templar

      It would be funnier to see them sitting in Hell asking “How long before BHO gets here, ya think?”

    • pastafarian

      Joke’s on both of you, there is no hell.. except New Jerrsssey!

  • glenn

    Stefon should name drop him during his Weekend Update skit. “New York’s hottest club is Fart, where celebrities sip lite beer and dance with Gaddafi’s remains.”

  • The Truth

    How about SNL decides and we evaluate how they did. You know like back in olden times were people evaluated finished products instead of acting like they actually have input into the decision making.

    • Nathan


  • Chris

    This calls for a “What Up With That” scene.

    “Gaddafi’s dead! What up with that, what up with that?”

    • Tom

      Nothing calls for Whats Up With That. Ever.

  • JDD

    I saw give it a couple weeks, then bring Chevy Chase back to weekend update to announce that “Muammar Gaddafi is still dead”.

    • JDD

      Gah. *Say

  • Ian

    I am genuinely astonished that SNL is still on the air.

  • david

    “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead!”
    – Chevy Chase

  • Anonymous

    SNL has not been funny for at least six years.

  • Stephanie T.

    LOL has something there, but not Regan. Hell has a bar (sort of like the Star Wars Cantina) where Hitler, Franco, Mussilini, Bin Laden, Milosivitch,Marcos, Hussien, and other dictators show up and chew the fat. All of the sudden Gaddafi shows up.

    • What?

      Alcohol is forbidden to moslems, dope.

      • Mehdi

        Doesn’t stop some of them from drinking, LOL :p Anyway, it could be a coffee shop, then. A coffee shop in Hell sounds way more hilarious, anyway :p

      • pastafarian

        if they’re all in hell, I think the no drinking rule is the least of their concerns.

  • Barack Palin

    I don’t know how “SNL” will handle it but I just saw a clip of the obscure 1987-88 sitcom “Second Chance” that starred Matthew Perry and Randee Heller that accurately predicted Qadaffi’s death in 2011. Worth seeing because they pretty much nailed both the year and the cause of death. I was impressed.

  • Beverly Hess

    Leave it alone because it would be in very bad taste to do any kind of skit. He was a violent man however still a human being. Saturday Night Live is not the venue to promote his death.

    • What?

      Was your father’s name Rudolph?

  • Theresthatbear

    How hipster of you to pronounce SNL’s demise so many years ago. I’ve watched the show for the most part since day one and this season’s opening shows were as funny as the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Seth Myers has assembled a team of writers so good I pray when this season is over, he locks the doors from the outside. Fred Armisen is outstanding, but I’ve got to go with Glenn’s Stefon idea. Can’t get enough of Stefon, or What Up With That (although I concede it’s easy to see why some people may be tired of that one, there are some dead horses that crack me up every time) and please tell me there’ll be lots more Cecil. I’m gonna catch that son of a bitch!

  • Mehdi

    I think maybe it should be his friends in a funeral standing around, trying to mourn, but just kind of falling back into backstabbing. Maybe it could start with the two, but they slowly suck in everyone at the funeral, including family members. I think that could be funny :p

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