LAUGHING AROUND TOWN IS BACK
If George W. Bush, elected or appointed as you may think, President of the United States were in the audience of the three performance events I saw on October 6th and 7th, he would’ve seen himself portrayed as everything from a pitiful nazi commander to a hot fudge sundae.
At seven pm on October 6th Beating Around the Bush: An Evening of American Satire at the NY Society for Ethical Culture saw five famous literary satirists, newspaper columnist Art Buchwald, Barry Crimmins (also of Air America radio fame), The Realist’s publisher Paul Krassner, Harper’s publisher Lewis Lapham and the great American novelist Kurt Vonnegut talking about the President, his policies, the Iraq War, and his insidious cronies, err staff.
The amazingly beautiful theatre artist Sara Jones was Mistress of Ceremonies. She used several of her theatrical satiric impersonations to introduce this stellar line up of authors who came to speak about the current status of literary political satire in America. This after all was a book promotion event, sponsored by all five authors’ publisher, Seven Stories Press. The promise of a signed copy obtainable after the event lured many book collectors as well as fans of these American originals.
Lewis Lapham, author of Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and Stifling of Democracy, introduced the topic of American satire from the historical perspective. I’m sure he’s read everything ever written about politics. Why? Because he speaks and writes like an academic. He wasn’t supposed to be funny, and he succeeded.
Not so the rest of the wise and incendiary political satirists. They had the clearly accepting audience laughing at the truths in jest. Barry Crimmins, author of Never Shake Hands with a War Criminal thought that Bush and Cheney were in the Oval Office kind of playing a game when they said, “the next person who walks in we’ll nominate for Supreme Court Justice.” Harriet Miers opened the door.
Art Buchwald’s upcoming collection, Beating Around the Bush, gave the event its name. Buch declared he wanted Bush to remain on the political scene until the year 2020 because he’s such a ripe plum for satirists. Buchwald said he needs the work.
Kurt Vonnegut’s new book, A Man Without A Country, is a biting indictment of the new Neo-con America. But he doesn’t blame Bush. “You might as well blame a hot fudge sundae. It’s Rummy, Rumsfeld. He’s the devil himself.” There are more devils than Rummy, Kurt.
Paul Krassner, author of One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist, followed Vonnegut angrily stating, “I blame hot fudge sundaes when they’re the cause of all this death, destruction and corruption.” There you go. Sign--Caution Satirists At War!
Publisher of all the books by these eminent writers Seven Stories Press, The Nation Institute and the International Socialist Organization co-sponsored the event. Considering this was a book promotion event tickets were $50 dollars each in advance, and $20 at the door. High priced satire, not for the poor unwashed masses needing a laugh. The audience got satire, at the expense of the Texan pluto-democracy that is hell bent on controlling our lives.
At 9pm on that auspicious Oct. 6th I stopped by the Triad Theater on West 72nd St. for Bush Is Bad: The Musical Cure for the Blue-State Blues. It’s a bright, smart, funny and biting cabaret with polished singers and accompaniment by Broadway’s Josh Rosenblum, the lyricist/composer.
Verstile singers imbue a cabaret with particular depth. Kate Baldwin, Neal Mayer, and Michael Mccoy deliciously portray all the moods of our times. They bring us all the odious characters, political, religious and corporate, in power along with their heinous corruptions of democracy.
Opening with the singing headline, How Can 59 Million People Be So Dumb?, the show progresses through the administration’s policies and personalities with songs titled: New Hope For the Fabulously Wealthy, The Gay Agenda, Lying Liars, Good Conservative Values, Culture of Life and the hilarious Beaten By A Dead Man blues. Before the lights go out they offer the ultimate solution, the “I” word (impeachment for those of you still unaware of what’s happening out there).
I grinned like a love struck tomcat when the ever more bizarre Ann Coulter gets blonde bashed from beautiful song belter Kate Baldwin.
Oct. 7th at HERE Arts Center on Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, I attended the first performance of the extended run of Burning Bush: A Faith Based Musical. With a large space to play in, author/performers Noah Diamond and Amanda Sisk created a theatrical romp with song parodies, dance routines, much camping and vamping. The use of projected photoslides as visuals created a mutimedia dimension that worked to set the mood of creative anti-Bushism.
The message of this musical is don’t expect politicians to do anything but mouth whatever will get them elected. The cast has a lot of fun with it while putting their every effort and heart into the songs.
However, the let’s-put-on-a-show quality of HERE doesn’t do justice to the danger from the characters they tackle. I think this show deserves to be in a better space where they can utilize the carefully conceived costumes, wigs, masks, and props they use to create a satirical world.
I especially loved Amanda Sisk’s Laura Bush. Her contempt for George may be pure impersonation, or perhaps reality. Typical of this administration’s secrecy, we don’t know anything about the First Lady, other than photo ops where she adores The Shrub. Yuck.
Actors Ellie Dvorkin (Barbara Bush, George H.W. Bush, and many others) and Kim Moscaritolo (Mopsy Jimenez-Tippington, Liberal Girl and many others) carry the female characters with energetic songs and dances. They play off each other often, giving the ensemble class.
But Brian Louis Hoffman’s absurd George W. Bush heightens this satire to farce level. He’s a dead ringer in movement and intensity of Georgie. He’s ridiculous and mock serious when making those preposterous statements we’ve all come to expect from Georgie.
Now if I ever needed a Jesus who could double as a dozen other characters I’d call on Corey Moosa. He carried the show into the 100 degree heat in HERE’s basement. He clearly knew he had the audience rivoted when he ad libbed to audience chatter. Corey will be remembered as Jesus when Christians are hopefully finished with politics.
Four members of the locally renowned rock band Death Mask accompany the singers adding a note of professionalism.
Of course, these artists are all looking for new audiences. Otherwise they’re just talking to the choir, better known as the anti-Bush Left. So buy a book. Go to a show. Bring apathetic friends and convince them to vote the corporate chicken hawks out of office. [Litt]
If you have any comments or want to notify him about performances or shows, you can e-mail Larry Litt at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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