Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A vote for comedy — Political satire puts election hijinks to use
By Jenny Neyman
Though they spend more than an hour lambasting politicians and public figures in skits, spoof commercials, fake newscasts and parody songs, the writers of Triumvirate Theatre’s political satire show, “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses,” acknowledge owing the politicians a debt of gratitude.
“Especially this year is the perfect time to do political satire because the political landscape has given us a lot of fodder for comedic writing,” said Joe Rizzo, one of the show’s writers.
It’s been a fertile campaign season for comedy: Sen. Lesil McGuire’s alleged drunk and disorderliness on a flight from Juneau, Vic Vickers’ name alliteration, Clean Water Initiative confusion (Are we for Prop 4? Does that mean we dig water, or want to wash up mining?), Don Young vs. Sean Parnell “Capt. Zero” mudslinging. Homer Mayor James Hornaday’s disappearing/reappearing act.
And what else? Hmm. Seems like there must be some other political development to poke fun at this year … .
Ah, yes: Gov. Sarah Palin, spoofed in parody, one-liners, a newscast and not one, but two different songs: “She Sold the Jet,” to the tune of “We Both Reached for the Gun,” from the musical “Chicago,” and a takeoff on a song from the musical “Evita.”
“Our one concern about the play was that it seemed Sarah Palin heavy, but then we realized the news is kind of Sarah Palin heavy,” Rizzo said.
The best part of developing a script like this is parts of it practically write themselves, Rizzo said. Real comments and events often provide a funny enough base for comedy that they only require a mild sprinkling of sarcasm or ridiculousness to take them from actual to amusing.
Take “Saturday Night Live’s” spoof of the Sarah Palin-Katie Couric interview, for example. A lot of what Tina Fey, who parodied Palin, said in the faux interview came directly from Palin’s real interview.
At that point all it takes is to present what’s really happening in a fresh way to highlight the humor in it.
“I think that mostly those eureka moments for us in writing the show would come, not so much when we would hear political events, rather it was when we could link it to something to do a parody about it,” Rizzo said. “All of us were well aware of Sarah’s amazing climb to the top. The eureka moment came when we realized, ‘Holy cow, this is a lot like the musical ‘Evita.’’ And so when you hook on to something like that you say, ‘Wow, it almost writes itself.’ Instead of ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,’ it’s ‘Don’t Cry For Me Wasilla,’ and you’re off and running.”
There’s some material closer to home, as well, including at look at what may happen if the airport becomes the site of Soldotna’s cemetery.
Election races at all levels of government have garnered interest this year, which makes Triumvirate’s satire show all the more timely and relevant, Rizzo said.
“I think the community and people in general are all excited about the election and politics right now. Traditionally a presidential election year sees people coming out of the woodwork to get involved in politics that normally wouldn’t in an off-season election,” Rizzo said. “There’s a lot more people following politics this year because of the presidential election, which makes a lot more informed audience, which makes parody a lot more fun and a lot easier.”
“Lame Ducks and Dark Horses” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. Admission is $10.