I’ve been grousing about the lack of sharp local, political satire and comment on Minnesota television and radio. I’ve looked for it on YouTube, surfed our Comcast channels and radio dial — nothing. (Yes, I do have a radio with knobs; a Christmas gift from my teenage kids.)
I’ve not found one single wag with a grinning, perceptive sense of the politically absurd or mundane on our local airwaves and their Internet repeaters. The ones pretending to be – like the teleprompter readers on Almanac or, say, the awkward talent on AM950 Radio’s Laughing Matters are, to be polite about it, duds. They lack juice and are delusional in their self-confirming shows. Michele Bachmann’s recent TV campaign ad pegged to her U.S. House bill to undo Obama Care sparked more laughs per second than a month’s worth of Almanac.
None-the-less, these local monologists, essayists, iconoclasts and chumps posture as if they are players in league with Bill Maher, Whoopi, Janeane Garofalo or perhaps sewer surfer Tom Bernard.
Andy Rooney, Molly Ivins and George Carlin were never guilty of an “I’m clever and perceptive” attitude. With brilliance, you don’t need attitude. Jon Stewart is a special case. His shtick of melodramatic asides, raised eyebrows, long takes at the camera and fist-pounding the fake news anchor desk is funny. The show is CPR for democracy. With maybe more than 15 Emmy winning writers and more producers making it up for him, Stewart is perched above the heap. But our local broadcast pretenders to that comic aerie are bottom feeding; they seem to be worried about offending the Crocus Hill Chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Rooney, Carlin, Stewart and Keillor set the bar, not the neurotic Catholic guy with his naughty priest jokes on open mic night at the Ha Ha Club. Sweet Jesus! Minnesota, via local TV, radio and video is dreadfully pleasant, un-funny, pulseless. Politics have been left for the elected, the poly sci prof, partisan sound bite trombones and the Ember Reichgott Junges and Barry Andersons of this world.
While the theatrical arts get better every year, satire remains as pointed as a Creamette noodle stuck in the drain. The likely video production venues for prospective comic cynics with no restrictions are the metro area’s cable access television studios and channels. It’s never happened. That said, MN Progressive Project co-captain Eric Pusey has the licks, looks and wit to slap the puck into the net for scores. Fox Nine News knows that and so do I.
On the current edition of Democratic Visions you can see him splash vinegar on the life political as he and host Tim O’Brien provide the continuity to four independently produced satirical videos, one from LaLa Land, two from Vancouver and one from Eden Prairie. The vids take measure of President Barack Obama and the fiscal cliff, local TV weathercasters and climate change, Canada’s tar sand industry, and the National Rifle Association. The latter features Eden Prairie’s Junk Yard Democrat’s Doug Lind, Norb Gernes and MN PP’s Tommy Johnson. The boys aren’t pretty to look at and sing even worse, but deliver a damn strong message about gun cultists. As Mel Brooks knows, you can’t beat monsters like Hitler with more speeches, but you can hobble them with silly.
The tar sand oil video is written and animated by Dan Murphy, who had been the Vancouver Province’s long time, brilliant political cartoonist before he bit the hand that fed the daily paper’s publisher. Ronny Butler is superb as Barack singing and strumming a ukulele, and Deep Rogue Ram, a young Vancouver-based parody ensemble can tar and feather SCTV style.
The Big E has at Chip Kravaack’s retirement, Tony Cornish’s guns for teachers bill and the Sixth Congressional District’s Princess Sparkle Pony. Our program was taped a few weeks before the legislator announced that she will not seek another term in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.
DEMOCRATIC VISIONS – ABOUT, WHEN & CHANNELS
Democratic Visions is produced with no budget by volunteers through DFL Senate District 48 at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban
Cable Commission. The half hour can viewed on your home flat screen if you’re hooked up to cable as shown below –
Bloomington Channel 16 on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m., Fridays at 9:30 p.m. , Saturdays at 7:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.
Minneapolis MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays 2 a.m., 8 a.m., 1 p.m.
Eden Prairie, Mtka, Hopkins and Richfield – Comcast Channel 15 Sundays at 9 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Hopkins.
MORE VIDEO SATIRE & PARODY
Daniel Murphy (with Lamar) YouTube Channel –
Deep Rogue Ram YouTube Channel
Ronnie Butler Jr YouTube Channel