The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Sarah Palin’s hate/love relationship with ‘SNL’

Sarah Palin attends the SNL 40th Anniversary Special at Rockefeller Plaza on Feb. 15 in New York. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

Make a Sarah Palin joke in front of a politically savvy Beltway audience and chances are it will fall flat. That’s sooo 2008.

But in the fake-politics/celebrity world of “Saturday Night Live,” the former Alaska governor and one-time vice-presidential candidate is still considered fresh-enough comedic fodder. Consider Sunday night’s prime-time special marking the show’s 40-year anniversary, where Palin was in the audience — and the topic of onstage patter.

During the broadcast, host Jerry Seinfeld took a question from Palin, at first feigning to mistake the former pol for Tina Fey, the former SNL writer and cast member who memorably portrayed her.  She corrected him. “No, it’s Sarah, Sarah Palin. How much do you think Lorne Michaels would pay me if I were to run in 2016?”

“I don’t think there’s a number too big,” Seinfeld replied.

The audience roared.

Palin beamed.

Her relationship to the show wasn’t always so sunny, though. The one-time ticket-mate of GOP Sen. John McCain repeatedly has made snide comments about Fey and SNL’s depiction of her as a lightweight rube unprepared for office (even though she appeared on the show during the 2008 campaign).

In 2009, she sniffed that Fey’s being named performer of the year was “a bit perplexing.” And in the 2014 edition of the show’s oral history, “Live From New York,” Palin said she “hated” the portrayal and indicated that Fey owed her.  “If I ran into Tina Fey again today, I would say: ‘You need to at least pay for my kids’ braces or something from all the money that you made off of pretending that you’re me! My goodness, you capitalized on that! Can’t you contribute a little bit? Jeez!’ “

But now those ego wounds seemed to have healed, and SNL is serving a purpose for Palin, who has seen her political star status dim, and only made recent headlines for a nasty brawl at an Alaska house party: She’s famous again!

On Sunday evening, Palin, resplendent in a white cocktail dress (yes, it seemed she borrowed it from her daughter Bristol, who sported the sparkly number to the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner), was once again a punchline — or in other words, relevant.

Loading...