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Georgia Clark

This Ain't No Tea Party

"Laughing Liberally"
March 24th until May 22nd
Midtown Theatre, 163 West 46th Street, NYC
Dirrected by Justin Krebs

Tickets: laughingliberallynyc.com or 212/967-8278.

Tea Party driving you crazy? Justin Krebs finds laughter is the best – and easiest – medicine. Photo by C/O David Gersten.

"Laughing Liberally: This Ain't No Tea Party" mixes humor, musical numbers, video, and political satire to spread understanding of liberal ideas, advance progressive values and provoke the Tea Party. Showcasing the brightest progressive talents from "The Onion", Comedy Central, Showtime, Axis of Evil, MTV, Huffington Post, and C-SPAN, "Laughing Liberally" proves liberals do indeed do it better. Under the direction of Justin Krebs (author of "538 Ways to Live, Work & Play as a Liberal"), the show will feature a rotating roster of today’s hottest comedians including John Fugelsang, Jim David, Dean Obeidallah, Baratunde Thurston, Negin Farsad, Lee Camp, Katie Halper, and Elon James White. We spoke to Justin Krebs about the nuts 'n' bolts of putting this show together.

Q. Can you describe what "Laughing Liberally" is about?
A. "Laughing Liberally" is a political comedy project that entertains you while promoting progressive ideas. Comedy is something the Left does better than the Right - so let's use it! Politics can often be boring or distancing. We make it exciting, engaging and funny. Often, comedians do a better job driving to the heart of something that most politicians - and they make you much happier than politicians as well.

Q. Tell me how you came to direct this show.

A. "Laughing Liberally" is part of a national movement called Living Liberally, which creates social communities around progressive politics. We started with Drinking Liberally, a national network of political happy hours. If people want to find fellow liberals in a bar, why not in a comedy club?

Q. What was it like working with so many talented comedians?
A. The best part about working with so many talented comedians is that they constantly keep you laughing. They bring more energy and ideas to the project because they are writers as well as performers. The tough part: you try to "direct" a stand-up comedian. Since they are so used to being their own writers and directors, theater is a different world to some of them.

Q. Are you concerned at all "Laughing Liberally" might be preaching to the choir, or is this the point to celebrate being progressive with other likeminded people?
A. If "preaching to the choir" were so bad, why would pastors do it every Sunday? The fact is that creating a celebration for like-minded liberals has value in affirming our identity and building our movement. That said, because the vehicle for these ideas is a comedy show, it's very easy for non-liberals to come and have a good time as well. Our goal is to get them laughing while they're in the theater. If we can get them thinking about those ideas after they left, then we've outdone ourselves.

Q. How does it break new ground artistically?

A. There is a thriving world of smart, thoughtful comedy that happens in the club circuit; but often comedy clubs ask comedians to steer clear of too much politics. We're creating a setting where performers steer toward politics, and find an audience ready to match them at every turn.

Q. What sort of other pop culture works is Laughing Liberally in the vein of?

A. There's the well-known saying that "truth has a liberal bias." So does comedy, maybe because good comedy is so based on truth, or, as Colbert might say, "truthiness." That's why liberals enjoy "Daily Show", "Colbert Report", "The Onion", "Bill Maher" and maybe why Al Franken is now in the Senate. We want to make sure there aren't just a handful of talented, liberal comedians, but an army of them.

Q. When did you first know for sure that you were in fact (deep breath) a Democrat?

A. My parents took me to a Mondale rally when I was 6. I didn't have a chance.

Q. Finally, give us your best Tea Party joke.

A. This one made its way around the web the other day. "A tea partier, union member and billionaire are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies. The billionaire takes 11 cookies and then turns to the tea partier: 'Watch out, that union guy wants part of your cookie.'"

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