As evidenced by his turn on last weekend's "Saturday Night Live," John McCain is a funny guy -- a fair amount funnier, arguably, than Darrell Hammond's John McCain impression. His self-deprecating gag about a "campaign message" on QVC showed him to be both a relatable person and a good sport. And it makes for an interesting contrast with Barack Obama, who appeared on "The Daily Show" last week, equally good-natured but lacking that McCaininan comic timing.
The question, though, is who is served better by which persona. As appealing as I found McCain, I wondered whether a late-in-the-game TV turn would sway any undecided swing-state voters. By the same turn, does Obama's relative stiffness on the air (have you seen him dance on "Ellen"?) contribute to those charges of elitism? As Stanford professor Richard Thompson Ford told me for a story last spring, Obama has a delicate job when it comes to political humor, since he's positioned himself as an above-the-fray, up-on-a-pedestal kind of guy. "As a charismatic leader," Ford said, "one can't afford to do things that undermine one's charisma." Does that make him look too distant, or more presidential?
I'd love to hear thoughts about the candidates' images. If you have a political rant, I humbly direct you to the Globe's campaign blog. Because as this race comes to a close, I'm feeling a little like this:
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsMatthew Gilbert is the Globe's TV critic.
Sarah Rodman is a staff TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.