You can take the politician out of comedy — but you can’t take the comedy out of the politician.
Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) reminded us of this Thursday (June 9) when the “Saturday Night Live” icon — who helped launch “SNL” and stuck around for the first three decades, most famously appearing in sketches as Stuart Smalley — gave a speech on the floor of the Senate. But rather than going the typical route of aiming for the head or the heart, Franken targeted the funnybone.
With the political world still embroiled in a contentious debate over who should get to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat left by Antonin Scalia and when, Franken took it all the way back to 1801 — using an improv-heavy bit of comedy to get the point across. Which isn’t the sort of thing you typically see from someone like Mitch McConnell.
“I suspect it went something like this …” Franken begins, sounding like the start of a sketch, as he launches a one-man show voicing multiple historical figures pondering the 1801 confirmation of John Marshall, voicing a Founding Father, he says: “Ah yes, I recall the day we wrote that [into the Constitution], you were in a particularly good mood because your wife Betsy had arrived by carriage the night before from New Hampshire.”
With a smile on his face, he argues that in those days, politicians would set aside their differences so they could maintain an effective SCOTUS moving. “They allowed the Senate to hold a vote,” he explains. “These are Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution!”
As funny people from Will Ferrell to Charlie Chaplin to Jonathan Swift have known, sometimes the best way to get a political point across is by sweetening it with a little laughter. Whether Franken’s “SNL” throwback will effectively persuade any of his fellow Senators remains to be seen, but for fans of the comedian/politician, it’s nice to see him returning to his roots — because he’s good enough, smart enough and doggone it, people still like him.