William Shatner’s hilarious send-up of Sarah Palin’s resignation speech is making the rounds, and deservedly so. It’s an instant classic, but it’s also quite touching.
For years after Star Trek ended, Shatner spent a good bit of time trying to persuade the public that he was a great actor. Perhaps the greatest and most pathetic example of this was “The Transformed Man,” a spoken word album that probably set the record for unintentional self-parody: many of the tracks had Shatner doing Shakespeare. The harder he tried, the more laughable he became.
And then, some time in the early 90’s, he decided to play along with the game. I first noticed it during those ads for priceline.com. Shatner’s job in those ads was to make fun of William Shatner. And it worked — brilliantly. After a few years, priceline tried to move to a new ad campaign but it couldn’t because everyone loved old Bill so much. So he came back, and parodied himself by pretending that his replacement would be Leonard Nimoy. He did much the same thing with cameo appearances on Saturday Night Live. His character in the first Miss Congeniality was pretty much the same thing, as well as Denny Crane.
That’s what is so great about the Shatner Palin send-up. He is also parodying himself, and genuinely seems to be enjoying it. He’s at peace with himself. Captain Kirk has beamed down to Planet Nirvana.