Here Comes Hexagon

Annual Comedy Show Raises Money for Charity

Posted March 7, 2003 at 2:54pm

Not rain, sleet or massive amounts of snow could keep the cast of Hexagon from performing its 48th annual show.

The elements tested this year’s 34-sketch musical review, “Rhyme and Punishment,” with weather causing four rehearsals to be canceled.

“The biggest challenge to doing this show was losing the rehearsals to the snow,” Artistic Director Ian Grossman said.

School closings created the difficulties because Hexagon performs its show, which runs through March 22, in the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public school in Georgetown.

“It’s hard to play catch-up when you lose rehearsals so close to opening,” Grossman said, quickly adding that he is “very proud” of how well the volunteer cast pulled the show together despite the time crunch.

Wartime does not provide the easiest material for musical mockery, but as Washington’s only “political, satirical, comedy review,” the troupe gives its best shot, infusing the show with loads of sexual innuendos and leftist political views.

John Allnut resumes his role as the stuttering, bumbling commander-in-chief. His “State of the Union address” had the audience giggling when he called for nationwide “vasectimization” against the imminent threat of the “small-cocks virus.” The parody of Bush and an adviser, in an Abbott and Costello rip-off attempting to determine just “Hu” is in charge of China, delighted the audience as well.

Presidential spoofs provided much of the fodder, but also in the hot seat were former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, Saddam Hussein, and everyone’s favorite CEOs, Bernie Eggers of WorldCom and Norman Taylor of United Way. In different sketches from “The Cover-Up Waltz” to “I Rock Iraq,” this year’s “bad guys” were lampooned with smiling faces by Hexagon. While dancing, the company reminded everyone, “Corruption’s not a sin if you spin!”

Politics provide much of the material for Hexagon’s sketches, but the area’s antiquated Metrorail system, annoying cellphone usage and some of the District’s ridiculously overpriced restaurants also get in on the act.

With news always breaking, Hexagon is forced to update its show to keep current. The “News Breaks,” which Hexagon legend claims precluded the “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update sketch, provide the best opportunity to infuse the latest material. In instances where the material is just too good to ignore, Hexagon has added last-minute numbers, such as this year’s tribute to duct tape.

Members of Congress will join the Hexagon ranks Wednesday for the annual “Congress Goes to Hexagon.” The tradition took root in 1988 thanks to the efforts of Skip Maraney.

Maraney, a Hexagon volunteer since the 1960s, made it easier for Members to participate in the show by giving them one-liners and cameo appearances in the sketches.

The Members testing their comedic talents this year include Reps. Joe Barton (R- Texas), Tom Davis (R-Va.), Lane Evans (D-Ill.), Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), Chris Van Hollen (D- Md.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), as well as Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

“We love to get ’em out here on stage because the audiences just love it,” Maraney said.

Congressional Hexagon alumni include former Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.), former Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) and Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.).

Another Hexagon tradition is the yearly donation of all proceeds to a local charity.

Since the first performance in 1956 benefitting the American Cancer Society, Hexagon has raised more than $3 million for charity, including $100,000 last year for D.C. Food and Friends.

“We’re hoping this year’s receipts put us in the same ballpark,” Grossman said.

This year’s performance will benefit the D.C. chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which the group has sponsored once before, in 1996.

“We’re hoping proceeds from this year’s show result in another Hexa-House,” Hexagon charity Vice President Paul Cohn said.

“Rhyme and Punishment” runs through March 22. Tickets range from $20 to $25 depending on the night.

For tickets or additional information, call (202) 333-SHOW or visit the group’s Web site at www.hexagon.org.