Page last updated at 10:34 GMT, Sunday, 19 October 2008 11:34 UK

Palin plays it safe on US comedy

By Rajini Vaidyanathan
BBC News, Washington

There had been a real buzz ahead of Sarah Palin's appearance on the hit US comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live.

Saturday Night Live Courtesy of NBC and Broadway Video

No wonder, given that for the past month, a spoof Sarah Palin, played by comedian Tina Fey, had been sending up the Republican vice-presidential candidate on the very same programme.

Ms Fey's impressions had gained attention and laughs for the uncanny likeness between her and Governor Palin - the look, the mannerisms and the accent.

Only a week ago, she had said she had wanted to appear on the show.

Now she was finally on it.

Would she mimic the woman who had been mimicking her? Would we see both real and fake Mrs Palin side-by-side in a sketch? Would Mrs Palin feature with the show's spoof John McCain?

Comedy sidekick

In the actual event none of the above happened, but what we got was Mrs Palin alongside Hollywood stars Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg as well as cast members from the show.

In many ways it was the sort of performance you would expect from a politician running for office. The best and most risque gags were delivered by those she starred with, rather than by Mrs Palin herself.

The Alaskan governor played the role of the comedy sidekick, but also came across as someone who did not take herself too seriously, happy to laugh at the jokes made at her expense.

The show opened with a mock news conference, announcing that Sarah Palin was due to speak, but instead of the real governor, out walked the fake one played by Tina Fey.

Tina Fey plays Sarah Palin (L) alongside cast member Amy Poehler in a scene from Saturday Night Live
Tina Fey impersonated Sarah Palin in a mock interview

In the spoof meeting Fey as Palin spoke to the assembled press pack: "I just want to say how excited I am to be in front of both the liberal elite media, as well as the liberal regular media."

It was after this "news conference" that we finally got to see the real Sarah Palin, watching her lookalike on a screen backstage.

"I just didn't think it was a realistic depiction of the way my press conferences would've gone," she told the show's executive producer Lorne Michaels.

"Why couldn't we have done the 30 Rock sketch that I wrote?" she said in reference to the hit US comedy which Tina Fey stars in.

Many viewers may have been thinking the same.

There had been speculation ahead of this performance that a role reversal with Mrs Palin mocking Tina Fey was on the cards, or that the pair would appear together.

Gut instinct

In the event the closest we got to witnessing the latter was when the pair momentarily passed each other in the opening sketch.

But even without her doppelganger by her side there were some humorous exchanges.

Mrs Palin held her own with Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin.

Assuming he was talking to producer Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey, Baldwin launched into an attack on Sarah Palin describing her as a "horrible woman".

When he realised he was talking to the real Sarah Palin, he backtracked, telling her that she was "way hotter in person".

Her reply, was probably her funniest in the show. "Thank you, and I must say that your brother Stephen is my favourite Baldwin brother."

In her second and final appearance towards the end of the show, Sarah Palin was seen on the set of a news show.

My gut is telling me it might be a bad idea for the campaign, it might just cross the line
Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

In the sketch, comic actress Amy Poehler assumed the role of Gov Palin in a rap sequence where she was joined onstage by Eskimos, a moose and a comedian playing Todd Palin, the governor's husband.

Although Gov Palin did not take part in the rap, she seemed more than happy to nod her head to the music, to lines such as: "When I say Obama, you say Ayers" and "I'm Jeremiah Wright cuz tonight I'm the preacher, I got a bookish look and you're all hot for teacher" - references to accusations made about rival candidate Barack Obama's associations.

Before the rap began she told her comedy co-stars why, despite having rehearsed the rap, she wouldn't be performing it:

"My gut is telling me it might be a bad idea for the campaign, it might just cross the line."

There were those within her Republican party who disliked the idea of their candidate being parodied on a liberal comedy show and felt any appearance on Saturday Night Live would cross the line.

But judging by the smile on her face at the end of the show, Sarah Palin at least felt she had made the right decision.

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Palin mimic gets US public's vote
11 Oct 08 |  US Elections 2008
Palin joins her mimic on US show
19 Oct 08 |  US Elections 2008

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