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October 13, 2015

Has 'Saturday Night Live' Found a New Barack Obama in Comedian Jay Pharoah?

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 2nd 2010 4:00PM
Comedian Jay PharoahCould 'Saturday Night Live' have found a fourth new hire? If the most recent buzz in comedy circles is to be believed, one of the reported new cast members could already be getting a promotion -- to President.

According to blogger Sean McCarthy of "The Comics' Comic," comedian Jay Pharoah "is just about a done deal" to join the cast of the 36th season of 'SNL' later this month. Taran Killam, Paul Brittain and Vanessa Bayer are all rumored to be joining the cast as well. The most interesting part of this news is that Pharoah will bring a host of characters and impressions to the show, including a new and fresh take on President Barack Obama,

McCarthy doesn't have a solid confirmation that 'SNL' will impeach Fred Armisen from the Obama role and replace him with Pharoah, but noted that it's the most likely scenario. TV Squad has found a video of Pharoah's Obama impersonation, posted after the jump.

Armisen's aim for accuracy over comedy with his impersonation hasn't been met with the same level of praise as Dana Carvey's George Bush or Phil Hartman's and Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton. This isn't the first time the rumor mill has churned out speculation that the show is shopping for another actor to replace our commander-in-chief. In fact, the show reportedly held auditions with comics such as 'Daily Show' correspondent Wyatt Cenac and 'Community' actor Donald Glover after Obama's election in 2008.

Still, Armisen's impersonation of the President hasn't been as bad as others have proclaimed it to be. From his slow-paced tone to his hand gestures and mannerisms, it's fairly accurate -- just lacking in comedy. It doesn't have the thing that makes all 'SNL' presidential impressions special, that one thing that sets the standard all aspiring comedians and annoying office cutups should measure their impressions against. There needs to be an exaggerated mannerism or signature phrase that sets it apartment, the "not-gonna-da" for George Bush or the "strategery" for George W. Bush.

Pharoah's take has a chance of finding that same stride. His YouTube page features a showcase of impressions from Ray Charles and Owen Wilson to Stewie Griffin and (of course) President Obama. What his impression lacks in voice quality and similarity makes up for it with exaggeration and depth. He speaks as though every syllable is the most important syllable in the English language, followed by very strong gesturing that exudes an extreme amount of confidence and bravado. Pharoah's Obama impression starts at the 6:14 mark in the video.

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Who is the actor playing Obama in Washington?

September 03 2010 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Workman

Not Bad?! Needs a litle more work though.

September 03 2010 at 8:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whoever they get to play him should always wear a shirt with a Hammer & Sickle with the Red Star.

September 03 2010 at 7:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 03 2010 at 7:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fred is the best this guy sucks

September 03 2010 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sounds all like the same person to me. What's with attempting to promote this guy? He doesn't have much going for himself. He's not even a one. Let's move on, folks.

September 03 2010 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this is a joke right? my 16 year old blows him away!

September 03 2010 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

OMG. Seth Myers!?? Is there no accounting for taste? Thank goodness for TIVO. My wife and I find this cast of SNL characters to be one of the best in years. The only caveat being.., we 'fast forward' through the snarky, political propaganda of Seth Myers.

September 03 2010 at 5:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sorry... but this guy 'has nothing' on Fred Armisen. It reminds me of that old saying (..and its true): "If it aint broke, don't fix it." Armisen is 'spot on' as Obama as well as for 'what's-iz-name' the Gov. of NY State. He's the best. Who are these people who "proclaim" Armisen's impressions to be..., uh..., bad(?) They're just the opposite. They're terrific. What's their agenda? Why are they getting this attention for such an obvious 'miscall?'

September 03 2010 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hope he will know how to lie and read a teleprompter

September 03 2010 at 4:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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