No matter which candidate ultimately surges ahead, political comedy is emerging as the clear winner in the presidential race, reports the New York Times. Tina Fey's dead-on parody of Sarah Palin has triggered a huge boost in viewership for Saturday Night Live. The Colbert Report and the Daily Show have canceled vacations to keep the jokes coming and the ratings soaring.
A surge of interest in the election—especially among the young—has paid off in ratings, and observers say it has given the comics extra energy as well, with the late night hosts enjoying a superb return to form. Producers like SNL's Lorne Michaels deny that their parodies are influencing the election, insisting the laughs simply provide a "safety valve" to release pressure. "The real key is joke first, message, if at all, second," said Jay Leno.