By Kyle | February 6, 2009
Rave reviews for Will Ferrell’s Broadway show “Thank You America: A Final Night with George W. Bush” today. No surprise there.
But check out my upcoming Sunday column to learn something about the show that will disgust you, if you are a patriotic American.
One excellent thing about the end of the Bush presidency is that we may stop hearing the same cracks again and again. Leaving aside, for the moment, whether they are justified, what value is there in a joke you’ve heard variations of dozens of times?
Will Ferrell’s (almost) one-man Broadway show in which he portrays George W. Bush is full of tired gags about Brownie, Rove and the rest of the crew. There’s even a line about how Texas leads the nation in capital punishment, as though this longstanding policy had anything to do with Bush. (Funny, no one ever expressed horror at all the murderers who were executed when Ann Richards was governor; nor did liberals express much disgust when Bill Clinton actually left the campaign trail in 1992 to go and “preside” over an execution, i.e. provide a photo op for his tough-on-crime image.)
The Ferrell show was so full of dusty “Weekend Update” gags–in what other context can you get away with making jokes about events that happened five years ago as though they were topical?–that some of the biggest laughs came when the star wasn’t even onstage. He changed costumes a few times, and every time he did so his “secret service agent” (played by Ferrell’s brother Patrick) came to the front of the stage and did a silly dance.
Another of the biggest laughs came when Ferrell, as Bush, announced, “This is a picture of my penis,” and a picture of a hopeless-looking male organ flashed on the screen above his head. Still another of the laughs that brought down the house: an actress playing Condi Rice came out and did a sort of stripper dance. The political jokes were, by comparison, rote and worn-out.