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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Al Franken On His Impressions of Paul Simon and Others
From Al Franken at the National Press Club, February 28, 2002:

MR. AUBUCHON: I think we talked in the introduction about some of your others. But who's the easiest person you ever did an impression of in your SNL days? Who was the easiest?

MR. FRANKEN: I have this odd thing which is I do a certain small set of impressions. I'm not someone like Daryl Hammond or Dana Carvey, who can do like an incredible number of impressions. So I've only done maybe, you know, a handful. Strom Thurmond is fun to do, because he has that cracker accent that doesn't really exist in America anymore -- (laughter) -- because it's died out. (Laughter.) And I loved during the Anita Hill hearings when he couldn't hear her, and he was saying, "Are you talking (in the machine?" (Laughter.) Talk in the machine, I can't hear you -- talk in the machine." (Laughter.) He -- I think he's going to make it. (Laughter.) You know, Norm Ornstein, a friend of mine who is the resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, believes the Republicans may be pulling a "Weekend at Bernie's" kind of thing -- (laughter) -- with Strom. You know, I don't know if that's true.

Paul Tsongas was an odd one to do. I remember Dana Carvey wanted to do Paul Tsongas. I used to write a lot of the political stuff on the show. And we had a two-week break, and I sort of went off and said, "Okay, what's Tsongas about?" And I started doing him. I came back and I said, "Dana, can I do him?" And Tsongas was kind of a cross between -- he was Snagglepuss with, like, a New England accent. So it was like -- (imitates Paul Tsongas). So he was a fun guy to do. (Laughter.)

And Paul Simon probably was the easiest because Paul, who I love, has my timber. So he had the -- and spoke -- very -- deliberately -- and was from southern Illinois. And God bless him. We were just -- Clarence and I were just talking about how my impression really harmed him. (Laughter.)

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