The latest edition of the recurring political humor show Laughing Liberally is titled Make America Laugh Again and is decidedly anti-Trump. It’s created by the brilliant veteran comedian John Fugelsang who is ubiquitous on radio, cable television news shows and comedy clubs. Mr. Fugelsang introduced it and his headliner 45-minute set was the finale and contained many bright spots. Each performance has a different cast in between his two sets, and at the one under review, five polished comics did their acts.
Due to several performers’ extended appearances, the presentation ran two hours instead of the announced 90 minutes. The result was more of a standard comedy club evening, though without drinks rather than a unique theatrical event. We watched a procession of working comics of varying appeal until we got to the star. Still, there were portions that were very funny and ultimately it was an entertaining experience.
The stage is bare except for a black high chair and a microphone on a stand. Scenic designer James Morgan’s stylized painted panels of a Times Square-style cityscape achieves a visually artful dimension. Lighting and sound designers Joan Racho-Jansen, Mike Schulz and Lakia Lewis’ technical proficiency adds flair to the production.
“When was the last time you saw an orangutan with a comb over?” cracked primatologist Natalia Reagan during her breezy and focused takedown of Trump where she authoritatively compared him to the different apes. With her nerdy vocalizing, bespectacled Muslim Iranian-American Negin Farsad, who was born to immigrant parents, did a wry examination from an outsider’s perspective. Ms. Farsad is married to an African-American man and she got much comic mileage out of that and her recent complicated pregnancy was the centerpiece of her often amusing turn.
The hyper, bearded and bespectacled Myq Kaplan’s passable bit was in the tradition of oversexed Woody Allen-type intellectual Jewish nebbish shtick. With her droning fluty Nora Ephron-style delivery and a persona reminiscent of Dorothy Parker, the sleek deadpan Carmen Lynch offered measured crispness. Ms. Lynch’s mother was born in Spain and her 50 year marriage to an American was humorously noted as is their support of Trump. Observations about taking the morning after pill was a key feature of Lynch’s delightfully sardonic routine as was being in therapy.
Botox, promiscuity, unrepentant alcoholism and mentions of Jeffrey Epstein were hilarious features of stridently out gay Iranian-American Mehran Khaghani’s off the rails, drawn out set where he directly engaged the audience.
“Did you ever want to go back in time and meet with the first person you had sex with and show them how much better you’ve gotten at it? I can’t because I don’t know which parish he’s preaching at.” The limber, animated and personable Fugelsang got off a number of sharp jabs during his slightly meandering performance that skewered Trump, examined having a child late in life, made note of Hurricane Dorian, lampooned religion and referenced Ingmar Bergman.
“A different show every night” was how Fugelsang explained the nature of Laughing Liberally: Make America Laugh Again. Judy Gold, Janeane Garofalo, Judah Friedlander and Elayne Boosler are among the enticing upcoming personalities scheduled to appear.
Laughing Liberally: Make America Laugh Again (through September 21, 2019)
The Theater at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.laughingliberallyny.com
Running time: two hours without an intermission