TIM FANNING MY VIEW
Does Sarah Palin really exist, or was she invented by comics out of boredom?
Tina Fey, the talented creator and star of the NBC comedy 30 Rock, first registered on most people’s radars over here when she took the mick out of Sarah Palin, the Republicans’ vice-presidential nominee in the 2008 US presidential election. Some would have thought the former Governor of Alaska was beyond parody but not so, as Ms Fey ably demonstrated on legendary US comedy show Saturday Night Live. So close to the real VP candidate was her caricature that Americans weren’t able to tell where Fey’s impersonation ended and the real Sarah Palin began. Fox News in the US was so confused that it used a graphic of Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin in a news item about the latter’s on/off presidential bid last year. Despite the fact that Fox News employs Palin as a commentator. Personally, I’m not sure there is a real Sarah Palin.
In Game Change, the dramatisation of John Mccain’s decision to pick Palin as his running mate in the aforementioned election, which aired recently on Sky Atlantic, Julianne Moore was hampered by this strange blurring of reality. Moore, a talented actress, not only had to play a character with whom the US public is intimately familiar, but she also had to overcome the mental image of Palin based on the Tina Fey caricature. At the same time, she was playing Palin straight, not for laughs.
It’s a problem that might have arisen in the script meetings for a new HBO comedy show beginning on Sky Atlantic next month. Veep, which is written by Armando Iannucci, the man behind the British political satire, The Thick Of It, and its big-screen spin- off In The Loop, stars Julia Louis-dreyfus as, yes, you guessed it, the US vice-president.
In the publicity shots for the show, the former Seinfeld star, who like Tina Fey, has great comic timing, also looks a tad like… yes, Sarah Palin! Of course, the creators deny that their comic creation is based in any way on Palin. But it’s unlikely that the question of similarities didn’t arise when Iannucci was dreaming up the new show. Initial reports from the US are encouraging, with LouisDreyfus, in particular, receiving plaudits. The show uses the same fly- on- the-wall style and expletive-laced, rapid-fire dialogue as its British predecessor. Whether it takes aim at political culture in the US remains to be seen.
Hopefully, for those who have Sky Atlantic, Louis-dreyfus can manage to disassociate her vice-presidential character from the real Sarah Palin (whoever she is) while raising as many laughs as the great political moosehunter.