Monthly Archives: February 2020

The Bottom Line: What All Patriotic Americans Must Agree Upon.

LibertyScreen Shot 2020-02-24 at 9.49.06 PMwpa-posters-01Democrats.

Progressives.

Liberals.

Sane Republicans.

Patriotic Americans.

However we define ourselves on the political spectrum — or whatever easy political label we’re comfortable with – can we all agree on the following statements?

  • Climate change is real and MUST be addressed with URGENCY.
  • The gap between Rich and Poor in America has grown grotesque and unsustainable.
  • Medical Care is a Human Right.
  • Women deserve Equal Rights and Equal Pay.
  • Women have a fundamental right to make their own reproductive decisions. (It’s their bodies, boys.)
  • The influence of big money donors in politics corrupts the democratic system.
  • America must stand as a beacon for Human Rights, Freedom of the Press and Democracy.
  • 1000209288.jpg.0NATO is a good thing. (Certainly better than two World Wars in the 20th century.)
  • The European Union is a good thing. (Certainly better than two World Wars in the 20th century.)
  • The worldwide influence of the Putin-led Russian Oligarchy is a bad thing – and not something patriotic Americans should ignore — or, as Trump does, apologize for and promote.
  • Competent governance by experts in their fields is good.ee7c04e9469bc0f2749ae9805aa04921
  • Incompetent governance by political hacks and industry lobbyists is NOT good.
  • Racism is NOT to be encouraged.
  • Factionalism is NOT to be encouraged.
  • Willful Ignorance is NOT to be encouraged.
  • The lessons of Science must be promoted and respected.
  • The lessons of History must be promoted and respected.
  • Immigrant children should NOT be separated from their families and put in cages.
  • Generations of immigrants have been the lifeblood of American advancement.
  • The Gospel of Jesus is not the religion of today’s right-wing Evangelicals.
  • The separation of Church and State is fundamental to American freedom.
  • The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you) is a good rule to live by whether you are religious, atheist or agnostic.

Do you agree with these statements?

bernie-sanders-student-debtThen, don’t fret whether the Democratic nominee is Bernie, Biden, Warren, Mayor Pete or Amy Klobuchar.

Every Democrat (except, perhaps, Oligarch Bloomberg) would agree on these things.

So, vote what you know in your bones to be right.

Donald Trump, the horrible GOP Mango Mussolini, doesn’t give one tiny shit about any of the things listed above.

But every Democrat agrees with nearly everything on the list.

So…

VOTE BLUE – NO MATTER WHO!

Dems

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ON TYRANNY: A Historian Warns America that Our Freedom is in Danger

Tyranny BannerI’m a comedian and television producer by trade — and a passionate history buff by avocation.

I don’t call myself a historian. I haven’t devoted enough years in research libraries or earned an advanced academic degree – but I’ve read enough history to know that we Americans are living in a perilous moment in time.

american-nazi-flagjpgRight now – in the 2020 Presidential election — the future of our democracy is in the balance.

Check out historian Jill Lepore’s recent article in The New Yorker and Yale professor Timothy Snyder’s recent booklet, On Tyranny.

Lepore and Snyder teach lessons Americans must learn.

donald-trump-ilhan-omar-hashtag-rallyPutting these two distinguished historians work together with the everyday evidence available on objective newspaper front pages and TV news broadcasts, it’s clear that the election and maladministration of Donald Trump is as dangerous and pivotal a moment for American Democracy as we’ve experienced since 1776.

Let me count the ways…

Cages

Just like the Nazis rounded up “the other” in concentration camps, so has the Trump regime locked immigrant Central American families in makeshift camps – and put their children in cages.

stephen-miller-11131The architect of Trump’s awful, inhuman border policy is his close aide Stephen Miller — an abominable, heartless white nationalist.

Think right wing autocracy can’t happen here?

Read Timothy Snyder’s short and powerful book – and you’ll be shaken to your democratic core.

It CAN happen here.

SeparationFamiliesWe can see the potential death of democracy in the feckless cowardice of the Republican Senate. By acquitting Trump of his obvious high crimes against the constitution, they bent their knees like the fearful, faithless German legislators who paved the way for Hitler’s rise to tyrannical authority.

And the world reaped the whirlwind.Seig Heil

Today – it’s not just American government in the balance.

It’s human survival.

neo-nazi-rally-in-claremont-calijpgTrump says climate change is a hoax.

Trump put a coal industry hack in charge of the EPA.

Trump has put a private industry fox in every public agency henhouse.

Trump is putting bootlicking lackeys in charge of the intelligence agencies.

hitlerTrump’s Justice Department under William Barr is enthusiastically investigating Trump’s perceived enemies.

And the spineless GOP legislators are letting Trump do it.

We can’t let them get away with it.

m_5d23790c8d653def6b886895I’m a comedian — but I’m not joking. It’s not an exaggeration.

Our democracy is at stake.

This election year, our American democracy is at stake.

We’ve all got to Vote Blue – No Matter Who!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Couple of Memes…

Meme #5Please pass along…

Meme #5

 

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My Life in Sketch Comedy: Part #1

goodtimes-1975 copyThrills & Glory 1I have been in love with the improvisational comedy revue format for more than 45 years. Improv comedy has been the guiding light of my life.

New Poster #8Most recently, I collaborated as a writer, performer and director of my 23rd comedy revue – celebrating 40 years of Practical Theatre Company comedy with “Big Holiday Bag O’ Fun” at Studio5 in Evanston, Illinois — ringing in New Year’s 2020 with music and laughter.

I’m still as passionate as ever about developing comedic situations and characters, polishing and performing sketches, and eliciting laughs from an intelligent and discerning audience.

It’s how I’m wired.

My comedy-loving father, Pete Barrosse, was born in New Orleans in 1927. Dad gifted me with a keen appreciation for the history of silent film comedy, vaudeville, stand-up comedy — and sketch comedy giants like Red Skelton, George Burns, Milton Berle, Carl Reiner, Imogene Coca and the great Sid Caesar.sidcaesar-2_slide-fe1060a88ea5c7230c05e55ba1b8c00d3a754440-s800-c85

Sid Caesar was the King of TV Comedy — the comedic force of nature behind Your Show of Shows, the seminal TV sketch revue that paved the way for great TV comedy revues like That Was The Week That Was, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Carol Burnett Show– and, in my adult years, Saturday Night Live, In Loving Color, Mad TV, Chappelle’s Show and Key & Peele.

Jumping ahead for a moment — in 1983 I got a chance to work with Sid Caesar and The Smothers Brothers on Saturday Night Live. How crazy is that?

1frost_2664182bBut going back two decades to 1964, I remember my mom staying up after work to take notes on each episode of the edgy, erudite TV comedy revue That Was The Week That Was— because dad was working the night shift at Reliable Spring in Cleveland.

That_Was_the_Week_That_Was_opening_titleI was just 8 years old, but I recall staying up late with my mom as we watched the show each week, and she took notes on TW3 for my dad.

Pete and Mary loved TW3.

Of course, it was all largely above my childish head – especially musical director Tom Leher’s cutting-edge songs.

original-5750-1397077218-10Check out the cast and writers for TW3: Buck Henry, Paul Sand, Comden & Green, Henry Morgan, Alan Alda, Elaine May, Mike Nichols, etc.

I was just a child, but I was absorbing the very best of satiric comedy. And I knew my parents thought it was important. Comedy was important. Laughter was important. Lesson learned.

That Was The Week That Was didn’t last long on U.S. network television – but 11 years later, I got my chance to join in the sketch comedy game. And my authentic life began.

Before I knew anything about The Compass Players, Second City, The Committee – or any of my improvisational comedy antecedents, I was cast in my first sketch comedy revue in the summer of 1975.

Goodtimes #1My high school theatre director Mary Ann Zampino asked me, a callow high school junior, to join her hip, funny, and far more sophisticated friends to join the cast of an adult cabaret sketch show called Goodtimes.goodtimes-1975

How much older were my cast mates? Five years? Ten? I had no idea.

Musical director Paul Novosel was talented and visionary, but I had no clue how old he was.

He was the musical director and keyboard whiz for my junior year high school musical, Li’l Abner– and Paul and Zamp liked my turn as Marryin’ Sam enough to cast me in their 1975 summer cabaret comedy revue, Goodtimes.

Goodtimes #2Goodtimes director Jane Van Bergen was the only woman who ever directed me in a comedy revue. Our three man and three woman cast was the most gender-balanced in a comedy revue I’ve ever been in.

Goodtimes was cutting-edge — before I knew where the cutting-edge was!

But these folks were so damn cool – and so funny! And they treated me like a peer. It was a magical experience and it changed my life. Performing sketches, crafting funny characters – and getting laughs from a sophisticated audience (with adult cocktails in hand) was an intoxicating experience.

It would take several years for me to get back to the main thing: cabaret comedy.

When I arrived as a freshman at Northwestern University in the fall of ‘76, I planned to make my mark in the legit theatre. I saw myself as a dramatic actor. My goal was a career in regional theatre — perhaps a role in the repertory company of The Cleveland Playhouse.

Then I saw the 1977 Mee-Ow Show highlights in McCormick Auditorium.

I had no idea Mee-Ow wasn’t a long tradition at NU. In fact, just two years earlier, The Mee-Ow Show began as a subversive reaction to the old-fashioned, student-written musical comedy revue, The Waa-Mu Show. It was a variety show that encompassed music, dance, comedy — even a laser light show, I believe.

Mee-Ow was then revamped and re-directed by cast members Bill Nuss and Dusty Kay (‘76) as a sketch comedy review — taking its inspiration from The Second City, Kentucky Fried Theatreand Monty Python.

The show I saw featured the best bits from the 1977 Mee-Ow Show, North by Northwestern: a show written and performed by Jeff Lupetin, Betsy Fink, Kyle Heffner, Stewart Figa and others. It was so damn funny. It was so damn cool. It was inspirational.

The Mee-Ow Show was now my goal.

But I had no idea where The Mee-Ow Show would lead.

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