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Playing Politics

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With ratings up 50 percent, more than 8 million viewers each week and prime-time specials airing on Thursdays, NBC’s Saturday Night Live is already a winner in the 2008 election. Here we poll the cast about their favorite moments—and who in Washington, D.C., yields the most laughs. “Probably Nancy Boyda, Congresswoman from Kansas,” says SNL‘s head writer and cast member Seth Meyers. “No, wait, I change my answer. Sarah Palin.”

Fred Armisen (BARACK OBAMA)

Age: 41

Hometown: Valley Stream, N.Y.

One indication he’s doing okay: “I met some people from Obama’s camp, and they were really nice to me,” says Armisen. Since joining the cast in 2002, “I watch news differently. I’ll see something and think about whether I can do someone’s accent.” His favorite recent host? “Anne Hathaway was great. Just completely un-self-conscious.”

Jason Sudeikis (JOE BIDEN)

Age: 33

Hometown: Overland Park, Kans.

Sudeikis was thrilled when his impression was praised by the candidate himself on Good Morning America: “He’s just laughing and laughing. Diane Sawyer can’t get him to answer a question. That’s pretty fun!” Beats the first time he played President Bush: “I was so nervous, I could make a fist and sweat would drip out the bottom of my hand.”


Age: 38

Hometown: Upper Darby, Pa.

According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, Fey’s spoof of Palin’s interview with Katie Couric made more of an impression on voters than the Couric interview itself. “It overshadowed some serious stories,” notes Pew’s Associate Director Carroll Doherty. When not perfecting the Palin wink, the married Fey (who left SNL two years ago) is raising a child while producing and starring in NBC’s 30 Rock. Playing Palin isn’t exactly an endorsement. “If she wins, I’m done,” Fey recently told TV Guide. “And by ‘I’m done,’ I mean I’m leaving Earth.”

Darrell Hammond


Age: 53

Hometown: Melbourne, Fla.

How is it that the same man who so perfectly mimics McCain’s seemingly absentminded wanderings during the second presidential debate could also be known for his uncanny delivery of über-Democrat Bill Clinton? “It doesn’t matter which party. It’s all about human behavior,” says the married Hammond, a 13-year SNL vet. Still, he admits he’ll never tire of playing politicians: “It keeps getting better and better. It’s like taking a magic carpet ride—you enjoy it without really understanding it.”

Amy Poehler

Age: 37

Hometown: Burlington, Mass.

After eight years, the pregnant Poehler is set to leave SNL for good after the birth of her baby (with husband Will Arnett). “I can’t even put into words how much I will miss it,” Poehler says. While viewers cross fingers that she’ll pull a Tina Fey and bring her spot-on Hillary back (2012 elections, anyone?), the skills learned at Studio 8H should serve a mom well: “I can change costumes, rewrite a joke and drink a cup of coffee—all under two minutes.”

Seth Meyers

Age: 34

Hometown: Bedford, N.H.

How does Meyers feel about the impending loss of co-anchor Amy Poehler? “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he jokes. Not surprisingly, SNL‘s head writer—who cut his teeth playing Sen. John Kerry during the last election cycle—says he draws inspiration from the sarcasm of former Update anchor Norm Macdonald when it comes to his desk duties. And while the single Meyers says he would love to write sketches for “Bill Clinton. Or Sir Ben Kingsley,” he won’t say if Democrats or Republicans are funnier: “It depends on the individual,” he claims. “Did Dennis Kucinich see a UFO because he’s a Democrat or in spite of it? Who knows?”

Kristen Wiig (NANCY PELOSI)

Age: 35

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.

The eyes have it: In her fourth season, Wiig’s expressions alone steal scenes, whether she’s playing the Speaker of the House—or a quirky Target cashier. “I think the Target people actually like it!” she says. “Which is good, because I go there all the time.”

For more hilarious interviews with the stars of Saturday Night Live, go to http://www.PEOPLE.COM/SNL?