Magazine February 7, 2011, Issue

The Pleasure of His Company

From the cover of The Oxford Book of Parodies (Oxford)
The Oxford Book of Parodies, edited by John Gross (Oxford, 416 pp., $29.95)

When Ross Perot was running for president an age ago, I became addicted to Dana Carvey’s imitations of him on Saturday Night Live. Concentrating all the staccato zaniness of the billionaire candidate into the short time-span of a sketch, the imitations seemed much more like Perot than Perot himself. Whole minutes of a genuine Perot speech would roll by without the candidate’s saying anything particularly characteristic; but almost every sentence uttered by Carvey was a howlingly funny Perotism. Perot himself was Perot with soda water; Carvey was Perot neat. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

Carvey’s sketches were a dramatic

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