Politics & Policy

Soap’s Up

A crass lefty comedy tour.

Didn’t our moms tell us that the only people who used four-letter words were the ones who didn’t have anything more intelligent to say? Some Democratic friends recently did their best to rehabilitate that maternal axiom when, as part of the “Laughing Liberally” comedy tour’s stop in Los Angeles on June 3rd, one comedian called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a “ghetto homegirl bitch” and referred to commentator Ann Coulter with the highly vulgar c-word for a part of the female anatomy.

Over the course of the show — at L.A.’s Wadsworth Theatre — eight comics spent about two hours repeating tired complaints about President Bush, punctuated by at least 105 profane words. Arab-American Dean Obeidallah asked why “we” cannot get rid of some of the “(expletive) Americans.” Rick Overton grabbed his crotch and reminisced about hippie sex. Cute Katie Halper was the lineup’s only woman, and only profanity-free comic.

Who is the audience for this sort of thing? It was a Saturday-night crowd of about 1,000 progressives and liberals, overwhelmingly Caucasian. The show program’s “special thanks” lauded the activist group MoveOn.org and Air America radio hosts Sam Seder and Janeane Garofalo.

The whole show was a bit of a crude cliché. All the comics easily fit into MTV-assigned Real World stereotypes: The black comic was angry, the white Jewish guy whined, the Arab-American talked about 9/11, the ex-hippie was silly, the San Francisco man was self-righteous, the cute woman was a little brainy, the gay comic camped it up.

‐ San Francisco comedian Will Durst mocked California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Austrian accent. Would they have done that to a Hispanic? Durst also got cheers from the Clinton-yearning crowd when he said, “I miss Bill” — but I doubt former President Clinton would have liked Durst’s gag about action hero Schwarzenegger marrying Kennedy family member Maria Shriver “to breed a bulletproof Kennedy.”

‐ Former Air America radio host Marc Maron has a local show on Air America’s L.A. affiliate, KTLK (a “Laughing Liberally” sponsor). At the Wadsworth he cursed more than 25 times, most notably when he said, “a f***ing retard . . . I enjoy the word, ‘retard.’”

‐ Black comic Shang’s 15-minute rant included at least 45 curse words. He envisioned schoolteachers becoming strippers, suggested that folks from Alabama have sex with their sisters, called former President Clinton “the whore of all whores,” and praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il’s fashion sense (“His style is so pimp!”). Shang’s dirty mouth and gold chain imprisoned him in black stereotypes.

The June 3rd show closed with a gay comic’s routine featuring riffs on Ann Coulter. He said Coulter hails from “Planet [expletive, rhymes with hunt]” and that the next Republican National Convention would be held “in her vagina.” The audience forgave the vaginal jokes, and instead hissed upon hearing Coulter’s name. The open-minded, feminist “Laughing Liberally” L.A. crowd did not boo as this white male comic reduced Rice, an accomplished black woman, to a “ghetto homegirl bitch.”

Sound like the kind of show any Democrat wants to be seen at? Apparently, yes. The “Laughing Liberally” comics, who performed in Las Vegas at last weekend’s lefty YearlyKos convention, are also performing at Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway theater in Somerville, Mass., this weekend and next. While the L.A. show’s dirtiest comics are not on the Boston bill, if last weekend is any indication, you can still expect a liberal use of obscenities that would make Ann Coulter, and her mother, blush.

– David Finnigan is a freelance journalist in Los Angeles.

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