Comedy: Mimicking Hillary

Hillary Clinton's rivals aren't the only ones feeling pressure from her big lead in the polls. Comics are also scrambling—to figure out how to do a good impression of her. On "Saturday Night Live," star Amy Poehler has yet to nail her Hillary. Poehler's performance during last month's season premiere—the first time she delivered a full-fledged speech as the senator—fell flat.

Other skilled impressionists say Hillary's lack of a distinctive accent (her husband's), facial tic (Dubya's squint) or memorable phrase ("Wouldn't be prudent") has made her tricky to capture. "There aren't a lot of sharp angles to Hillary," says former "SNL" star Ana Gasteyer, who played her prior to Poehler. Teresa Barnwell, a professional Hillary look-alike since 1993, doesn't even try to imitate her voice, focusing instead on a perfect haircut, a black pantsuit and an eerie physical similarity. "She doesn't give me a lot to mimic," says Barnwell. Political impressionist Jim Morris, who does a killer (Bill) Clinton and Bushes 41 and 43, says Hillary is "daunting." His take on her starts with a tight smile. Then he toys nervously with an imaginary necklace and speaks in a confident, slightly admonishing manner. "The subtleties are still fleshing themselves out," he says.

Fortunately, it's early. Rich Little recalls struggling to do Ronald Reagan during the early 1980s, overrelying on the Gipper's "Well … " before nailing Reagan's voice patterns. Others note that campaigns have a way of wearing down candidates, leading to the slip-ups (George W. Bush's "strategery") or buzzwords (Al Gore's "lockbox") that are a humorist's lifeblood. But Clinton hasn't cracked yet. If comedy history's a guide, though, she will soon. They all do.