SNL Paterson Skit Offends Blind

New York Governor David Paterson didn’t see the humor in SNL’s parody.

Gov. Paterson didn’t see the humor in a “Saturday Night Live” bit that mocked his blindness.

During the “Weekend Update” segment of NBC’s irreverent comedy show, actor Fred Armisen played Paterson, imitating his wandering eye, gravelly voice and blunt, self-effacing demeanor. But Paterson and advocates for the visually impaired didn’t appreciate stock blind jokes that had Armisen pretending to be disoriented and wandering aimlessly.

“I can take a joke,” Paterson told reporters.But he called the SNL spoof a “third-grade depiction of people and the way they look” that could lead others to believe that “disability goes hand-in-hand with an inability to run a government or business.”

It was a rather odd sketch. SNL’s writers cleverly set the stage for it, though, by running nothing but lousy sketches between Hugh Laurie’s opening monologue and the “Weekend Update” segment. By that point, anything would have seemed funny.

FILED UNDER: Humor, Popular Culture, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    SNL’s preoccupation with its political gags is wearing very thin. I wish it’d get back to its roots with more non-political stuff. But I guess many of its cast don’t have enough material or skill to carry off a signature persona like John Belushi, Eddie Murphy, or the late, great, Phil Hartmann.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Maybe I’m just getting old enough not to get the pop culture references but I’ve long adopted this approach to watching SNL:

      Watch opening sketch. Fast forward if not funny.

      Watch opening monologue. Fast forward if not funny.

      Fast forward until arriving at political sketch or Weekend Update.

      Delete episode.

    I watched more than usual last night because Laurie was on. Big Mistake. The writing absolutely blows.

  3. Franklin says:

    I only watched the Paterson sketch. It just wasn’t very clever. A couple stock blind jokes might be fine if mixed in with some better material, but calling himself a freak because he’s blind?

  4. Triumph says:

    When will the Political Correct crowd stop trying to censor us?

    The PC polie had no problem letting SNL parody Sarah Palin for being a bimbo. But now they are up in arms over Patterson’s own disability.

    In each case, they were just dealing with the reality of the people they were portraying.

  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Gov. Paterson didn’t see the humor in a “Saturday Night Live” bit that mocked his blindness.

    Uh, what am I missing here? How does a blind person get offended by something they “see” on TV? Sounds like an oxymoron to me.

  6. Franklin says:

    Are you calling Palin’s bimbo-ness a disability?

    Actually this is sort of a cultural point that was raised a few years back in a study on international brands of humor. Americans tend to make fun of stupidity, the Brits enjoy wordplay, etc. I think the problem here was that SNL equated blindness with stupidity.

    I don’t think I’m particularly PC, especially in private, and some of the stock blind jokes still amused me (the upside down employment growth). But again, he’s an unprepared freak because he’s blind? Perhaps I don’t know enough about Paterson – if he’s acted completely incompetently, then maybe it was all fair. Or more likely, I’m just analyzing all this too much.

  7. Franklin says:

    Oh, McGuire … I wasn’t going to go there; too easy!

  8. Triumph says:

    Are you calling Palin’s bimbo-ness a disability?

    Yes, it is clear that the fact she is a bimbo was a disability.

    Most of the conservatives who abandoned McCain’s candidacy did so because of Palin. It was precisely Palin’s weakness on the basic facts of governance, history, and geography (ie. her bimbo-ness) that offended them.

    Had she not been a bimbo she would have strengthened the ticket because she is hot and likes to shoot guns. Conservatives like hot chicks and guns; but many of them also don’t like nimrods. In Palin’s case, the prejudice against bimbos outweighed her gun-totin’ hotness.

    Like Patterson’s blindness, the whole “hockey mom” “Joe Sixpack” moron persona is a fundamental part of Palin’s makeup.

    Her essential bimboness was the main platform that she was running on.

    And people rejected her for it.

    Had she actually been conversant with the policy problems facing the country, she could have had a chance. Instead her disability caused her and McCain to tank.

  9. Floyd says:

    Look at the bright side…At least Paterson went for a lower class[cheaper] prostitute than Spitzer!
    See? ‘Cause he doesn’t “look” good!

  10. “I can take a joke,” Paterson told reporters.

    Your response to this would suggest otherwise.