[media-credit id=4 align=”aligncenter” width=”640″][/media-credit]As I sat in my seat and the tattered giant American flag went up as the backdrop on stage, President Obama left the stage. No, I was not amongst thousands of onlookers in Charlotte, NC, or sitting in front of my TV or computer screen. I was part of the voting public in the audience at an opening night in Seattle, WA. Yes, this was the perfect opening night for the newest run of Wing-It Production’s Election Show.
Back in February 2004, during a casual conversation at a bar, co-creators John Boyle and Doug Willott asked each other, “How can we create a political show that is relevant and topical, while avoiding partisan politics that can isolate or divide the audience?” Lo and behold, Election Show was born. Since the first run of such a unique, never-been-done concept met with great success and rave reviews by media and audiences all over Seattle, the show has been performed at nine comedy festivals throughout the country. Each local run begins in September and goes through November, with a special celebration and show featured on election night Tuesday (which falls on November 6 this year) featuring live coverage of the election and a look back at this year’s election season.
Now in its third incarnation since 2004’s presidential election, Boyle and Willott once again bring to the stage their original improv outline, which takes us on a journey through the absurdity and ridiculousness of the election process in a mere 90 minutes. From the initial primaries of the opposing parties, through the final knock-down, drag-out battle of the final November presidential election, the show begins by introducing us to four “well” qualified, charismatic candidates that need your vote.
That’s right, we, the audience, have a key and instrumental role in choosing between three completely made-up candidates running on out-of-thin-air platforms — such as introducing a mandatory 8-hours of sleep a night for adults, mind reading, and underground societies, for example. As with any Wing-it full-length improvised show, every night Election Show is performed, the candidates, platform, debates and outcomes will be completely different, though the basic format stays the same. The audience votes for the final candidate who will run against the incumbent (the winner of Election Show from the previous night — ie. the current “President”); they also participate in the debates with questions, as well as providing suggestions throughout the show that shape the way the campaigns will unfold.
As the creators — who happen to be political junkies themselves — point out, the American presidential elections seem to be getting more and more stressful every successive term. Their hope is that their amazingly talented and funny cast can give the audience an opportunity to laugh at the politicians and the process that seems to get more absurd every election. Some changes to the show since its inception have been an increase in appearances/focus on the pundits (in this case, making fun of shows like Cross Fire and such) and the Super PACs. The show basically evolves over time as there becomes more and more to poke fun of — especially media-coverage-wise — throughout the American election process.
I’d say the show is almost worth it just for the pundits and the absolutely hilarious commercials, rife with mudslinging and exaggerated smear campaigns. As absurd as all of these bits are (and they are quite absurd), they’re so close to the truth of our election process that they become frightening while remaining funny. I highly recommend catching the show while it is running, especially as we get closer to November 6. With this being the first presidential election that I’ll catch most of my coverage through mediums like Twitter, I find it all the more appropriate to continue my absorption of political coverage through other means of hilarious political satire and “LOLs.” I encourage others to do the same.
Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. Sept. 6-21, Oct. 4-19, Nov. 1-2 and special showing Nov. 6 // Wing-It Productions Theater, 5511 University Way NE //$15 general admission, $12 students, seniors and military; tickets available at the door or at www.jetcityimprov.com