July 10, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Politics! The Musical

This piece was stronger than some of the other overtly political send-ups because the author wasn’t simply making fun of a profession, in this case politics, in which they seem to have little practical experience. He took an element of the broader cultural landscape to focus his humor.

Another delightfully wicked little vignette is Pete Reynolds’ “An Anti-Washington Candidate’s Stump Speech.”

“Now, I’m not from Washington, D.C. No one can say I’m a part of the Washington establishment. You won’t find me at a Washington, D.C., cocktail party, laughing and wife-swapping on the taxpayer’s dime while the economy crumbles,” the anti-Washington candidate insists. “No, sir. I’ve never been to Washington, D.C. Actually, I’d go so far as to say that I literally could not even find Washington, D.C., on a map, and not because I don’t know how to use a map.

“My friends, I’ve never even heard of Washington, D.C.,” the candidate continues. “I do not even believe in the concept of Washington, D.C. And as I stand before you here today, I can promise you that Washington, D.C., is not even a term I understand as a proper noun.”

This piece cleverly picks a simple cliché of the political insider pretending to be an outsider and the political outsider pretending he doesn’t want to be on the inside. The transparency of this oft-told fable is ignored by the media, the public and, of course, the politician himself. 

At first, the reader is struck by the outlandishness of the candidate’s claim, and then by the dawning realization that elements of this speech aren’t so far removed from the monologues currently being delivered by leading politicians on the national stage.

The most problematic sections of the book, however, are the mock musicals and screenplays. From Wendy Molyneux’s imagined Sarah Palin action movie screenplay to Ben Greenman’s fake musicals, “BAILOUT! THE MUSICAL!,” “WEINER! THE MUSICAL!,” “PALIN! THE MUSICAL!” “WIKILEAKS! THE MUSICAL!” “HOT PLANET! THE MUSICAL!” “SANTORUM! THE MUSICAL!” and “STRONG GOVERNMENT! THE MUSICAL.”

The jokes will feel old, especially to a Washington audience. This community is heavily seeped in a constant flow of political news, and nearly immediate political satire. At a rapid fire clip, humorists in and around Washington will beat a joke silly, so that what was funny two months ago is kind of lame now. 

There is not a joke about disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner, for example, that wasn’t lobbed through a tweet or a blog post during the summer of 2011. Therefore, to devote an entire mock-musical to a joke that died a year ago feels redundant at best. What else is there to mock about Weiner, action figure Palin or the financial bailout? The trouble with revisiting these well-trodden satirical roads is that the chances of finding something new to laugh about are slim to none. This is another difficulty of translating the immediacy of the Web to the constancy of the page — the jokes don’t hold up over time.

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