Mocked for years on “Saturday Night Live” as a clueless blind man, the governor of New York appeared on the show’s season premiere to dish right back.
Gov. David Paterson came on the show’s “Weekend Update” segment early Sunday and interrupted cast member Fred Armisen, who was in character as the governor. Armisen plays Paterson as a buffoon with a past of youthful drug use and womanizing who loves to razz neighboring New Jersey.
In an earlier season, Armisen held a chart illustrating the state’s job losses upside down.
During “Weekend Update,” Armisen launched into a clownish take on the New York governor’s race — “It’s like ordering at the Olive Garden. No matter what you get, it’s going to be a greasy mess,” he said of the two candidates — before segueing into a crack about New Jersey and then Paterson’s driving.
He was interrupted with a cry of “Stop! Stop! Stop!” from Paterson, who came onto the set amid cheers from the audience.
Paterson has said the show’s parodies hurt disabled people who can’t fight back. He said during the show that he has a good sense of humor but jokes about the disabled are “sophomoric and stupid.”
But Paterson held his own with Armisen and cast member Seth Meyers, poking fun at Armisen for playing Paterson with a beard. The governor said he’d shaved his a year ago.
“Are you blind?” he asked Armisen, getting a laugh from the audience.
Paterson, who is not running for election in November, joked that being governor is a lot like “Saturday Night Live”: “There are a lot of characters, it’s funny for 10 minutes and then you just want it to be over.”
Paterson has been investigated for taking free World Series tickets, which he and aides later paid for, and for intervening in a domestic violence case involving a top aide.
Paterson said that despite his disability, he’s been one of the few people who can “see what we need to do” in New York. He then ticked off some of his political accomplishments.
“I’m blind, I’m governor and I’m still alive,” he said, clearly enjoying himself.
“Now how much better do you want me to be?” he asked, and laughed.
Armisen and Meyers apologized for the show’s parody of the governor and promised to be more respectful of the disabled.
“Blind Americans are incredibly capable and we also rely on our other senses as well,” the governor said.
Meyers asked whether it was true that other senses are heightened for the blind, setting up Paterson for one more jab.
“Just by sense of smell, I can tell that there are 15 people in this audience from New Jersey,” the governor joked.