Parody? More like Pair O’ Deez

Let’s do a little research…

Satire- 1. A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit, or 2. Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.

Parody- 1. A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.

We’ve already learned something, right? Satire mentions Irony and Wit in several places, Parody doesn’t. Parody has one aspiration, to imitate in order to ridicule, and it is very effective. One of the most brilliant purveyors of parody alive today is Christopher Guest, who’s work is actually so sublime that ridicule usually makes way for genuine affection. This Is Spinal Tap was straight out mockery, as was Guffman, and yet we love the people, we take them seriously. Best In Show and A Mighty Wing somehow managed parody without hostility, ridicule as affectionate ribbing. He is a master.

But look at what he has chosen to parody. In every circumstance, he shows our folly by chosing for his subject matter something that is being held incredibly precious by an ever shrinking audience. Heavy Metal, Community Theater, Dog Shows and Folk Music Festivals are all disenfranchised groups of people who live for their particular passion, and the arc of his work is to get us to take our own little niches less seriously.

I didn’t laugh the first time I saw Waiting For Guffman, because the play I was in was NOT AS GOOD as the play in the movie. They had a much better cast and way better sets. Jesus, they had a live band. But I got the joke, eventually.

Satire doesn’t necessarily use the characteristic style of any one thing, it’s job is to use wit to attack vice or folly. Satire has largely now become a word used by politicians to denote anyone both comedic and fire-breathing. Al Franken and Dennis Miller come to mind, although I’m sure Dave Chapelle and other party-neutral comics would also fit.

For theater, it’s hard to see the satire for the snot, unfortunately. The Importance Of Being Earnest, Dinner At Eight, A Little Night Music, etc., there is a list of satirical plays but most of them seem to be reserved for another time, set in another age. As Irony has taken over our lives, satire has taken a back seat to parody, and it’s a shame. Outside of stand-up comics (and late-show desk jockeys who are essentially stand-ups) (or sit-downs, I guess), any satire is mismarked a “dark” comedy, and doesn’t usually see much daylight.

There is nothing that says that parody ought to be insightful. Lucky for the some participants in the Fringe festival this year.

In terms of direct parody, there are a fair number of plays that feature George W. Bush. I haven’t seen any of these plays, it’s possible that they are wonderful, but my personal world has no room for seeing our current sitting president who is presiding over one of the most outrageous presidencies ever dramatized. I devour news sites, I buy books, I am terrified of when the next attack will be and who should be preventing it, if that’s even possible. This is just me, and remember, I’m an idiot, but I just can’t possibly go see a play where Bush is being dramatized. I want, in the worst way, to get in a room with a group of insightful people and discuss the political landscape and how it can be altered, but if you’ve written a snotty play about “Dubya” and Jesus, you can kiss my ass.

Now, there are several other direct parodies. One is mocking “Dukes of Hazzard” a wildly popular, lowest common denominator TV show from the 80s that is so well known that short shorts are called “Daisy Dukes”. “Showgirls”, a terrible movie that has a huge cult following, so much so that it is being shown in theaters at midnight like “Rocky Horror”, is being redone. With sock puppets. Yet another play has chosen to satirize “Goonies”, a STEVEN SPEILBURG movie that is in the top ten most quoted movies of our generation.

So, looking at these three, what possible insights do you hope to give me? Am I going to learn something about any of these three shows that I don’t already know, that all my friends don’t already know? That countless thousands and thousands of people my age, younger, and older don’t already know? My *MOM* knows about these three shows, she’s 73. My *NEPHEW* has these shows memorized, he’s 19. Why should I care? Seriously, if you google yourself and get here, tell me why I should care. Here

Save The Goondocks!

Harvey Finklestein’s Sock Puppet Showgirls

Big Trouble In Little Hazzard

There, now you can google your shows and find me and explain to me why I should see your show. If I go, I generally bring about fifteen people with me, so it’s worth your time.

The Fringe isn’t without what appears to be good parody, though. There is a show that is being presented as an 8th Grade Drama Group. That is a great idea. I mean, I was there for that, but it isn’t something that the E! Channel has already done a special about. Snow White is being retold in what appears to be three languages with audience gate crashers. Again, something I haven’t already made jokes about with my own friends. “The Life and Times of a Wonder Woman” is about a cool ass show that hasn’t been beaten to death in pop culture already.

I mean, parody isn’t dead. There is a show going up called “The Precinct” and the tagline is “Five cops. One Killer. No plot.” That’s a joke I haven’t heard before. And The Fringe is still amazing. Which I guess is my point. If I care about politics and the war and my upcoming vote, don’t you think I would be more interested in a show like “Valiant” which describes itself as “a word for word account of women’s experiences in war throughout the 20th century” than something called “Dementia Presidentia” wherein Jesus appears as the new Cheif of Staff?

Maybe I’ve gotten too old. But I still like fart jokes, I still like people getting kicked in the noots. I just don’t think old wit is still wit, and I don’t think this administration is funny.