Sunday, June 25, 2006

Laughing Out Loud At “Laughing Liberally.”

No matter if it is on Broadway in New York City or Off Broadway in Davis Square, Somerville, Mass. there is always a lot of positive energy popping around with a sold out house. And this was the case at “Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theatre,” where a packed and animated house viewed the comic showcase “Laughing Liberally: Saving Democracy One Laugh At A Time.” I was fortunate to take in the last of a series of 8 shows on Saturday evening June 24. “Laughing Liberally,” the brainchild of David Alpert, Katie Halper, and Justin Krebs, began as auditions for local political comedians to appear in venues in New York City. It has been performed nationally, and Davis Square, Somerville, a bastion of unabashed, organic liberalism, was a stop on the tour.

The show started with an introductory video with Janeane Garofalo, and Sam Seder from Air America Radio’s “Majority Report.” Jimmy Tingle was the master of ceremonies, and “liberally,” mixed his old and new material that kept the audience amply anticipatory for the upcoming barrage of politically charged jokesters.

Anne Podolske, a self-described lesbian comic from Western Mass., who has an understated, but lethal wit, skewered the Republicans’ care and handling of the Gay community. Podolske talked about coming out in her 30’s. She said she grew up in rural Wisconsin, which she said was less than a “sultry” state. She was popular with men early on because as she put it: “I had long blonde hair and a drinking problem.” Later she joined the Peace Corp because she felt;” Maybe Mr. Right is abroad.” At 47, Podolske had an astute observation about middle age love. She quipped: “Love means who is going to drive you to your Colonoscopy.” Having just had one I had to concur!

Myq Kaplan, a fresh-faced, wisecracking Boston University undergrad, had a subversive, cerebral wit that poked fun at popularly accepted notions. Kaplan, a much younger and better looking version of Woody Allen, told the audience that it was a “great honor for them to see me tonight.” Kaplan, who is Jewish, said he finds it curious that his Christian friends are often shocked that he doesn’t eat pork. He said: “I mean, don’t they drink the blood of their savior?”
Kaplan, a true liberal, said that he himself is not Gay, but that his wife is. Kaplan also touched on his vegan tendencies, cows’ significant “utters,” and the similarities between the KKK and the AAA.

Scott Blakeman, a veteran comic, who teaches at the New School in New York City, used his comic arsenal to impale the Bush administration. He had a riff on “smart” weapons. Blakeman, in a Seinfield frame of mind, did an exegesis of the use of the word “smart” to describe a weapon: “ What’s a smart bomb, anyway? Did it go to graduate school at Columbia? A smart bomb is smart if it says: Hey I am staying right here—I’m not going off.”

Other comedians for the night were Lee Camp and Julie Goldman. Camp felt the war on “terror” is ridiculous because “terror” is an emotion. “What’s next… a war on sadness?” he said. He wondered if the Bush administration would issue Prozac and Doctor Phil books as strategic weapons.

Julie Goldman, reminds me of a younger and even more bombastic lesbian /political comic RENO , who I saw a few years ago at JTOB. Goldman who talks and looks like a truck driver, came across the stage like a manic force of nature, who forgot her lithium. Goldman didn’t so much crack jokes, but used the full force of her mercurial personality to send up herself, fellow lesbians, George Bush, her Jewish mother, her intellectually posturing partner….you name it.

On the way out from the theatre I talked with a prominent psychiatrist acquaintance of mine who attended the show. He is a serious man but he said enjoyed the show thoroughly and I did see him laugh liberally. I gave my friend the comedian Emily Singer and the founder of the theatre, Jimmy Tingle, the thumbs up as I went out into a sultry and very humid Somerville summer night.

Doug Holder