More satire

I LOVE Mark Russell. I have watched him on PBS since I was a little kid...I think I liked him early on because he played the piano. As I got older, and started to understand the jokes, the piano just became an instrument of presentation.

Mark's comments are clean, so I don't have to worry about my children hearing what he has to say, and like the Capitol Steps comedy troupe, no party, belief, or personage is sacred. Equal opportunity satire...facetiousness at its finest.


I used to watch him as a kid as well. My dad loved him. Plus he was an occasional lector at our church. I mean that he did the announcements, not the readings. I imagine the parish was wise enough to not let a satirist loose on that material...

These days I go back and forth about how funny I find him to be. The jokes seem familiar or almost recycled. I'm sure some of that is the constancy of the source material. Greed, corruption, incompetence, lies, secrecy, and power struggles are perennial issues in politics. I suppose there is only so much that you can make of them. But after about the third time hearing a bit set to The Addams Family theme, I figure I can take a break from him for a while.

I believe he was spoofed in an early Simpson's episode in which the family went to Washington DC because of a contest that Lisa won. Part of the awards ceremony has a cartoon Mark Russel singing a little ditty that goes "The Trade Gap Shuffle, The Trade Gap Shuffle, we're in a heap of trouble, doing the Trade Gap Shuffle, yes sir!" Bart complains "We've HEARD this song already," and Marge corrects him "No dear, that was the Budget Gap, this is the Trade Gap."

I'm sure that my discovery of Tom Lehrer later in life also contributed to the weakening of my opinion of Mark and his material.

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