If I can be serious about humor for a moment I have some advice for the McCain campaign and for Palin. I doubt they read this blog, but there happened to be an area where I can give some actual advice so I thought I’d try.
The Saturday Night Live sketch has been pretty damaging for Palin. While her interviews with Gibson and Couric weren’t particularly helpful by themselves, the popularity of the SNL sketches helped cement what people thought about them. The power of humor is that if someone laughs at a joke, then they are accepting the premise of it — if even just at a subconscious level. Once a joke become accepted by the popular culture, it’s very hard to overcome (just ask Dan Quayle). Since SNL is willing to have Palin on their show, that gives her an unprecedented chance to fight the already solidifying perception of her. If she just goes on the show and does some little cameo, that will be a little help as then the audience is laughing with her, but Palin could benefit a lot if the humor were a bit more targeted.
What the the SNL sketches have done is deconstructed Palin — emphasizing her weaknesses while belittling her strengths. It’s effective humor, but it’s also a cheap trick. So deconstruct the deconstruction. Palin should do a sketch of Tina Fey and the writers trying to figure how to best mock Palin, including Tina Fey (well, Palin as Tina Fey) trying to get Palin’s mannerisms down and make them funnier. Have them analyze a video of Palin (it would be great if it were Tina Fey playing Palin completely straight — maybe reading from an actual stump speech). They could take boilerplate campaign statements and figure out how to misconstrue it as Palin being stupid or a crazy right-winger. They could spend time figuring out how to clumsily insert something about dinosaurs in the sketch because they heard on the internet that Palin believe they’re 4000 years old. They could take a basic statement about belief in God and expand it out to her being a religious extremist. Also, it would be great to have Palin as Tina Fey exclaiming, “This woman is crazy and dangerous and we have to stop her!” in response to the most vanilla conservative talking points.
Basically, the idea is to ridicule those who automatically hated Palin and kept searching for solid reasons to hate her while also deflating the previous sketches done about Palin. It wouldn’t be easy, as Palin would have to have some actual comedic acting skills. Plus, the sketch needs to be funny (and thus not too focused on making a point). But if it’s successful in making fun of making fun of Palin, it will deflate the jokes already out there about her. I don’t know many instances of politicians successfully doing that, but it’s certainly worth a try.