It's always been a good sign for "Saturday Night Live" when people are still talking about the show on Monday morning. That's happening more often now that the venerable comedy program is sharpening its satire of President Barack Obama.
This weekend's show opened with a parody of Obama's news conference with China's president that included jabs at the administration's spending on economic stimulus, health care reform, bailouts and Cash for Clunkers. America's $800 billion debt to China was the butt of many jokes.
"Remember this moment, folks," Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood announced. "One year after Obama's election and just more than ten months into his administration, 'Saturday Night Live' takes its first crack at Obama for something other than not being left enough."
But it's not the first time SNL has generated buzz by skewering President Obama. At the beginning of October, pundits declared the caustic "do-nothing Obama" sketch a turning point in the popular perception of the new president. CNN took it so seriously it actually fact-checked the comedy bit -- setting off a second wave of mockery.
"SNL's awakening is a sign that Obama's honeymoon is over," said Ellie Velinska on Right Pundits.com, who saw the China news conference skit as a reflection of a "public revolt against some of Obama's policies."
Another Black Conservative's Clifton B agreed. "There appears to be growing noise on the left that Obama ain't all that," he blogged.
While rejecting the idea that "liberal comedians are somehow arbiters of popular culture, let alone public policy," Power Line's John Hinderaker said Saturday's "sometimes-funny" sketch did "seem significant."
Mediaite's Joe Coscarelli thought the routine was "short on laughs" and wondered whether SNL's writers would "consciously sacrifice funniness" to make a political point.
Those who weren't amused by the Obama jokes might have enjoyed the mash-up that turned a movie trailer for the end-of-the-world blockbuster "2012" into a glimpse of what happens when Sarah Palin is elected president (with Glenn Beck as VP). And it was a real politician, not a comedian playing one, who got some of the night's biggest laughs. Former Vice President Al Gore declared on "Weekend Update" that in order to draw attention to the climate-change crisis, he was going to "start acting crazy."
Whether there's really any deeper meaning to SNL's political humor -- and what, if anything, that signals for the president -- is debatable. Comedy shows might try to influence policy, but they don't stay on the air for more than 30 years unless they make people laugh. From Nixon, Ford and Carter in its early days to Clinton, Bush and now Obama, "Saturday Night Live" has always been at its best when its presidential punch lines tickle the funny bone and strike a nerve at the same time.