Blind Sketch Not Funny on SNL: Discuss

Ahhhhh! The Title should have read “Blind Sketch Not Funny on SNL: Discuss”. No idea how all but BLIND got cut.
For those who didn’t see SNL the other night, there was an extended sketch within Weekend Update with (an actor playing legally-blind NYC mayor) David Paterson, who after a spiel bashing New Jersey and telling how his life was much like a Richard Pryor movie (blind coke user suddenly becomes mayor of the nation’s largest city) showed some charts upside down and then kept wandering in and out of the rest of the segment having no idea (because he’s blind you know) that he was in front of cameras.
Here’s the skit (after a commercial).

Today on CNN and in print:

Paterson’s Office Is Not Amused by ‘Saturday Night Live’ Skit

In the on-air version Paterson himself was quoted that he was offended due to the huge number of people with disabilities who are unemployed.

I was offended mainly because the blind parts weren’t funny- the NJ bashing and coke use mentioning actually had its moments. I expect more from Seth Meyers, because he’s cute.

What’s your opinion- all’s fair or too far?

Reported your post for a title fix. After your recent eye troubles, my heart skipped a beat at that title!

I usually think all’s fair (really) and try not to be too PC - but this skit truly rubbed me the wrong way. Can’t put my finger on why. The fact that the whole night was disappointingly unfunny didn’t help.

I’m glad you started this thread, because I mentioned how unfunny it was in the SNL thread and I was in the minority opinion there, it seems. Truth be told, the bits about his infidelity and drug use are fair game. But I was more taken aback by the fact that Armisen was mocking his wonky eye, etc. and I think some people miss that fact.

I think we’ve lost some civility in our culture when humor means we make fun of people for things out of their control. I mean, for all of Patterson’s flaws, and if he’s a politician, there are certain to be many, he’s worked to be taken seriously by his peers. It probably hurts to know that someone’s walking around making fun of your disability, and it suggests that maybe some people aren’t taking you seriously after all.

I know there’s going to be a flood of “humor = acceptance” type responses, and I suppose for some people, it’s fine. I know, for instance, some people have no problem with friends dropping racial slurs in jest around them. My general rule is if it’s something under your control (tacky dress, bad manners, greed, etc.) it’s fair game. If you can’t control it I think there’s often a mean streak in there.

What’s funny is that I have been told by people all my life that I’m very funny, I make people laugh, and I love to laugh. I think if you polled all the people in my life the common adjective they would say is “funny.” But sometimes when I post on the SDMB I feel like I’m the schoolmarm with the hair in the bun, wagging my finger disapprovingly…

No, Hippy Hollow, I think you put your finger on what was bothering me. And it’s pitiful if it’s considered school-marmish not to make fun of disabilities.

To use the vernacular, it was as funny as a crutch.

When was the last time that ANY skits on SNL were funny? I must admit I didn’t see the skit from the OP, but I’ll watch it when I get home and hopefully leave a better post. But SNL has been going over the line with crap for a long time now and I’m not really suprised that they did it again. That show hasn’t been “funny” for quite some time now.

I’m a bad test subject because I didn’t see the sketch until after I read an article about David Paterson’s reaction. I do think the parts about the coke and the scandal were funny (and relate directly to the how those things came up in the first place … right when the scandal broke Paterson, in an effort to look extremely forthcoming, made very clear statements about drug use in the past, as well as extramarital affairs. Every time you turned on the news, Paterson was on TV admitting to something else in his past. That got a lot of play on the local news, obviously, probably not as much nationally.)

I agree the parts about his blindness were not funny and somewhat offensive. There weren’t even about his blindness, if that makes sense, they seemed to rely only on the premise that blind people are clumsy and in the way. They could have been about any blind person.

Well, while crafting a response, Hippy Hollow makes a compelling case against, and makes me think I should check the other thread to make sure I’m not needlessly repeating thoughts already better expressed there. But having said that, meh: here’s the response I was working up:

I thought it was funny. Really funny. And, in no small part because it was actually rather clever and layered.

Part 1: Paterson is there as invited guest. Occasionally faces slightly wrong direction; holds chart upside down. Mildly funny: zany in that a blind governor would never be put on a real news show with such inadequate prep; bonus points for being un-PC.

Part 2: Done with his guest appearance, Paterson wanders into the camera shot and speaks over the ongoing broadcast. Funny. Zany in that the crew would never allow this to happen on a real news show. Provides vehicle for more scandal-related jokes. And, for me at least, recalls similar shtick based on John McCain’s meandering in and out of camera shots in debate parody from earlier in the season.

Part 3: Paterson AGAIN wanders into the camera shot, still yammering. Still funny/zany/un-PC for the same reasons. Also invokes comedic device of citing precedent. Also turns potentially saccharin farewell by Amy into farce.

I liked it.

Yeah, I do think one of the traits of this board is to “think different” and challenge the status quo. So the knee-jerk reaction is that the skit looked like something sixth-grade jackasses would do when the teacher isn’t looking, that reaction needs to be “unpacked.”

Do I feel sorry for Patterson because he’s blind? No, because he’s done quite well for himself, and clearly, I think his achievements are a real plus for blind people, especially blind youth. The unemployment rates for blind folks are abysmal - around 70 percent. And I would wager that if you looked at people who were blind since birth or from an early age, compared to those who became blind later in life after they had careers and jobs, it’s even higher.

But one of the biggest challenges that a blind person has to confront is the fact that sighted people can easily notice that they’re blind, most times, and so the disability speaks before the person does. Armisen’s depiction only reinforces that reality. And it wasn’t as if it was just “hey, he’s got a wonky eye” was the beginning and end of it. He kept on stumbling into the camera view, saying stuff he meant to say off camera… because he’s blind! Get it? He can’t see, so he’ll provide plenty of inappropriate and unintentional humor.

I’m not blind, and I suspect opinions in that community are quite varied. But I think it would have been great to have Patterson on to do some of his self-depreciating humor, and that would have been funny. Of course there’s no saying he’d agree, so maybe that’s neither here nor there. I’m not a sap on these issues, either - I remember some groups getting upset about the use of the word “retard” in Tropic Thunder, and I disagreed with that, because the point was that the characters were so insensitive and self-absorbed, that’s how they went about discussing people with developmental disabilities. The joke was on shallow, self-absorbed people, not the other way around…

Biolding mine.

While I haven’t seen the sketch, I think it should be pointed out that Paterson stumbles over his words a lot. While I don’t follow New York politics religiously, nearly every time I’ve heard the man speak, he’s mangled part of his speech.

Is it different from making fun of Gerald Ford for falling down?

The link in the OP only shows Part 1, incidentally. The full sketch (with his returns) may be online as well but I haven’t found it (or really looked that hard to be honest).

I remember Stevie Wonder actually participating in blind humor sketches on the show (“the camera so simple Stevie Wonder can use it!”) and Ray Charles as well (“Man it’s great to be here at Carnegie Hall” and “Joke’s on them, not only do I know I’m not at Carnegie Hall, I’m not the real Ray Charles!”). Of course the MAJOR difference was that they actually participated, which gives you permission to laugh, and also the sketches were funny (especially Stevie Wonder’s).

I think it’s funny that Paterson (or his office, whichever is responding) didn’t mention the Jersey bashing (“what have you got against New Jersey?” “Unfortunately, a southern border…”) or drug use jokes. Of course this also shows that it is the making fun of his blindness that irks them, not the fact he’s used for humor.

I think it’s stupid of Paterson to get offended over something he hasn’t even seen.

Go directly to hell. Do not collect $200. But first, some applause…:wink:

:eek: You are going to hell!

And so am I, because I laughed at that… a lot.

No, that’s not how I meant it. Just that he was saying stuff that he thought was being said privately on his cell phone, but he was actually walking in front of the camera.

Ah, never mind then.

Of course, that just makes it more likely its a callback to the McCain debate sketch (which was hugely funny and went over really well, so of course they’d try to redo it).

You know, I have been asking myself this. Also, is it any different from Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Stevie Wonder?

The best way I can explain my feelings is that Gerald Ford did fall down. And Eddie Murphy was a good mimic of Stevie Wonder’s mannerisms. He didn’t act like a random blind person, he acted like Stevie Wonder.

With this sketch, it was too generic to seem funny to me, Fred Armisen was acting like a blind guy, not like David Paterson specifically.

I disagree with this. Fred’s one-eye squint and slight lisp were good impersonations of Paterson’s speech and facial mannerisms. And, like all comedic impressions, they were somewhat exaggerated.

I don’t see any particular difference between that kind of mimicry and, say, Darrel Hammond’s hilariously shifty eyeballs when doing Jesse Jackson.

Should I have been offended back when Norm MacDonald used to do Bob Dole, mocking the latter’s habit of carrying a pen at all times because he had a gimpy arm?

How about when Fred Armisen does Barney Frank? Should he refrain from doing any gay jokes? Barney Frank has as much control over his sexual orientation as Gov. Paterson has over his blindness.

You can’t create a comic caricature by only imitating a person’s deeds. It would be cowardly, and – worse – not funny, to put an actor on a comedy show and tell him to mock a blind guy, except for that uncomfortable part about being blind.