Tag Archives: political humor

Political Idol 2020 (Streaming)

Streaming into your living rooms just as early voting wraps up is the latest rendition of Political Idol, a musical review written by Robert Yarnall and Marc Emory and staged online for 2020 by Michael Goldfried.  Hosted by a suspicious Russian accented “Simon Cowell,” the conceit of the show within a show is that the candidates are competing for your votes by singing 16 parodies of pop and show songs.  The opening number to the tune of “I Hope I Get It” from “A Chorus Line” and featuring the cast dressed as many of the democratic candidates illustrates the cleverness of the liberally-bent lyrics.  The contest concept is dropped early on in the script and it’s hard to gauge whether there remains an appetite for revisiting the earlier days of this taut election.  But certainly the performers deliver strong vocals and amusing impressions.

Still shot from Political Idol 2020

For those who can remember the 1970s, the humor is reminiscent of the musical interludes from Laugh-In, with often just a line or two from each entry performed with a punch. The strongest numbers are presented a third of the way through the 42 minute runtime with Mary Trump’s “Everything Comes From Neurosis” (based on “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from “Gypsy”), “Season of Trump” (set to the splendid “Seasons of Love” from Jonathan Larson’s “Rent”) and a memorable medley that will ensure you never forget how to pronounce the Democratic VP candidate’s first name delivering the biggest laughs.  The creative team has chosen to pre-record each performer remotely.  Having witnessed a fair amount of squishy green screen this season, I appreciated having Bruno-Pierre Houle’s virtual production design added in post so that the effects enhance rather than distract from images of the actors.  Sara Jean Tosetti contributes clever costume designs that also add value to the impersonations.

With music direction by Anessa Marie, each actor was recorded separately against a monochrome back drop.  Though I wish the lip synch was more consistently *synched*, the sound quality and vocals are high. Enga Davis has an edge having been given the shining characters of  Oprah, Michelle Obama and Kamala Harris to portray.  She gives each a clear and powerful voice, as you’d expect. Lara Buck Antolik is more exaggerated as Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi.  Her Melania Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle mug far more than they sing, though her body language has sparkle. Writer Yarnall gets into the act with a hilariously naughty Mike Pence and subtle Mayor Pete among others.  That Scott Foster’s orange-tinged Trump falls flat is not a reflection on his talent.  As feedback on the newest season of SNL illustrates, there is Trump Impression Fatigue throughout our land caused on one side by a feeling that the President is the one true American voice in politics and on the other by a sense of dread that democracy might never recover from his term in office.  Foster’s Biden fairs a little better, though the Democratic candidate plays a more muted role. Joe DiSalle rounds out the cast with a creepy Bill Barr and creepier Mitch McConnell.

As good natured as it is, Political Idol 2020 has an unfortunate timing issue.  This election has become too serious to be treated as a laughing matter.  However, if this jingly musical inspires even one more person to vote, it will have served its purpose well.  It is available online for $20.20 at https://www.politicalidollive.com until November 4. 

Broad Comedy

There is a great deal of heart — and other select body parts — in Broad Comedy, the way way left of center review currently running on Mondays at the Soho Playhouse.  If the concept of  a senior talking vagina giving dating advice to a teenage model of the same makes you laugh, this one’s for you.  The program is heavy on the sex jokes plus witty cultural observations and of-the-moment politics. It’s distinctly “blue” in both the moral definition and also in the sense that the work is definitely not for the ears of anyone who voted Republican in 2016.

Musical comic, actress, author, speaker, and social activist Katie Goodman stars, delivering a high octane series of sketches, songs, and musical bumpers co-written and directed by her husband, Soren Kisiel.  Her chatty rapport with the audience is genuine and delightful.  She is flanked by a talented all-female ensemble, which in New York consists of Danielle Cohn, Molly Kelleher, Tana Sirois and Carlita Victoria.  All have big smiles, strong voices and perfect articulation.  The acting is at an early student level, but this isn’t intended to be Ibsen.

BroadComedyNYCThe lyrics rely heavily on the use of the F-word.  There are also long asides recited over a single note in almost every song.  These devices seem lazy given Goodman’s clear and strong opinions.  Most non-musical sections bring a smile and several are big-laugh worthy.  At a few intervals, Goodman asks the audience to participate, though mine was decidedly shy.  Gags include the aforementioned wise vaginas and a team of uncooperative dancing boobs.  Of the routines that stem from higher chakras, the right wing cheerleaders (pictured here) are among the most fully drawn.  The modern twist on Vanilla Ice’s theme is genius.  Another skit in which characters speak in Siri is just right.  The only bit that fell completely flat featured two literal empty nesters who contemplate getting hooked on painkillers.  This is one topic for which no amount of distance is enough.

The production values are stronger than one would expect in a stripped down vehicle.  The show moves speedily, with the players making so many quick changes into cleverly designed costumes that at one point Katie had to check to make sure she was wearing a skirt.  <She was.>  The cute choreography is skillfully executed with the cast handily managing everything from baby carriages to guns.  Only the scene changing soundtrack featuring Ariana Grande, Kay Boutilier and others of that ilk is ill-conceived given its glaring contrast to the style of the main event.

When you get tied of yelling along with Rachel Maddow, get out of the house and over to Broad Comedy.  $35 tickets for performances Mondays at 7:30 are available now through March 26 and can be purchased at www.sohoplayhouse.com.  After its current New York engagement, Broad Comedy will continue touring nationally, and at some stops will be raising money for feminist causes including Planned Parenthood.  For more information on their ongoing adventures, please visit www.broadcomedy.com