September 12, 2012

Jay Pharoah to Take Over Obama Impression from Fred Armisen on SNL

About 3 hours ago, we reported that Jason Sudeikis will be returning to SNL through the election season, which presumably was largely due to wanting to keep consistency in the presidential election impressions and not have someone else step in to play Mitt Romney after Jason Sudeikis has become so identified with the part.  And while it seems that Romney will still be played by Jason Sudeikis this season, it was just reported that despite still being on the show, Fred Armisen will NOT reprise his trademark impression of President Barack Obama, as the part will now be played by Jay Pharoah.  

While it is rare for political impressions to change cast members while the original cast member is on the show, it is not unheard of.  In fact, after Will Forte took over the impression of President George W. Bush from departed cast member Will Ferrell, Jason Sudeikis did Bush a few times while Forte was still on the show.  While it is certainly unexpected that Fred Armisen will no longer be playing Obama, it does make some sense. Many have criticized the quality of Armisen's impression, and Fred himself even admitted in a recent interview about how his Obama impression has evolved that he's "tried to do it more as [himself]"  (in other words, his Obama talks more like Fred Armisen than the real Obama). Many have also pointed out that Armisen is not actually black (he is of Venezuelan, German, and Japanese decent) so some even considered it racist that Armisen was essentially going under black face to do the impression, especially with black cast member Jay Pharoah sitting in the sidelines. 

Here's a clip of Jay Pharoah doing his Obama impression at a comedy club, before getting cast on SNL:

And in case you've forgotten, here's Fred Armisen's Obama impression:

And in other SNL political impression news, it seems that Taran Killam will have the honor of playing Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.  This is also a bit surprising, as in my opinion Paul Ryan more closely resembles Bill Hader, but Taran certainly does do great impressions, and I suppose that if Bill Hader played Paul Ryan, then he couldn't play Shephard Smith as the VP Debate moderator, and that would just be a shame.

One thing's for sure, Lorne certainly seems to giving the younger cast members more prominent roles this season.  Should be a very interesting year!  SNL's 38th season premier is this Saturday night in just 3 days!  

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