Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Jim Morris and his Presidential Follies of 2006"
By Doug Holder

Somerville is a city with a lot of residents, but whenever I am at Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theatre, I am reminded that it still retains its small town charm. So it was no surprise before taking in the show: "Jim Morris and his Presidential Follies of 2006," that I ran into folks who were friends of both my landlord and a poet who I recently published. Jimmy Tingle himself was behind the bar in the lobby, cheerfully dispensing drinks…all was right with the world.
I have always been a fan of impressionists. From David Fry’s wonderful imitations of Dick Nixon to Rich Little’s right- on- the- money mimicry, I am a patron of that art. And Jim Morris doesn’t disappoint. Morris is possessed by his subjects; with his face twisted in their signature expressions, and his speech a right -on replica of their cadences and inflections.

Morris’ specialty is impressions of political figures. He started out locally with the hard r’s of former Mayor Kevin White, to the embarrassing speech impediment of an unfortunate substitute teacher of his youth. Morris is not afraid to get down and dirty. When tackling president Nixon, he imagined Nixon’s sexual encounter with his first lady. Nixon approaches this amorous liaison like a political hack. He tells her: " I would like at this time for you to remain perfectly still, as I caress those fleshy protuberances." Then Morris proceeds to have the audience hear a baritone Henry Kissinger in the midst of orgasm: Kissinger grunts "Oy!" Morris segue ways into Rod Serling of " The Twilight Zone" fame introducing a holier-than-thou Al Gore, as he pontificates about Global Warming.

Perhaps the largest segment of this show was devoted to our current president George Bush. Morris shows a true mastery of his subject. His rubbery face is actually transformed into a stunning Bush mask-- a mixture of frat boy arrogance and pre-senile befuddlement. Bush mangles words, and is unable to hold a thought. He talks of having "heart to tart" talks with his daughters, and threatens to close down their "ports of entry." In the Q and A session with the audience Bush was asked who would he support in 2008, he replied " A man named Marshal Law"

Bush’s imaginary slideshow drags at the end, but there was plenty of levity throughout the show. Morris will remind many of us of those classic impersonators on the Johnny Carson Show, Ed Sullivan, and the Jack Paar show. Check it out!

Doug Holder

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