JFK: He’s No JFK Throws Satirical Darts From the Right
by Michael Dale
When John F. Kerry is depicted as a horny Yale student who dreams of being elected president only because he heard that’s how John F. Kennedy got to have sex with two girls at once…
When Janet Reno is depicted as both go-go dancer and bouncer at a girlie club…
When Hillary Rodham Clinton is depicted as a devil’s disciple who claims to be loyal to the party while secretly sticking pins in a John Kerry voodoo doll…
…you know you’re not at a typical Off-Off Broadway political satire.
In this generally liberal town where it’s common to see plays and other artwork critical of the Republican Party, JFK: He’s No JFK might be considered some of the most daring theatre in New York. When was the last time you saw a zany, topical farce set on skewering left wingers produced east of the Hudson? But although this sketch comedy of a play, co-authored by Guy Kush, Ty DeMartino and Rhonda Tenenbaum, throws its satirical darts strictly from the right, it’s the kind of show that’s so lightweight and silly that even the most devoted Democrats could find themselves enjoying a few good belly-laughs.
After Yalie Kerry strikes out trying to score with with two co-eds, a mysterious, manly wrangler (you guessed it) has no trouble luring the two ladies onto his arms. Finding the stranger’s calling card, the mark of the “W”, the future Democratic candidate swears revenge. But a well crafted plot is not exactly what the authors are shooting for here. Narrated by the satanic Hillary (“I’m not here to talk about myself, which for me is a first.”) we get a series of vignettes and blackouts depicting such scenes as Kerry trying to find a way to win three purple hearts without actually hurting himself, Kerry and Jane Fonda plotting to end the Viet Nam war with a lascivious Ted Kennedy (she spends the whole time aerobicizing in red tights with military accessories), and a futuristic look at the 2004 presidential debates where Kerry tries to win by quoting JFK’s Nixon debate word for word.
As satire goes, this isn’t exactly Jonathan Swift. The humor is intentionally sophomoric and frat house quality, but despite an abundance of jokes that just aren’t funny (Not in a That’s not funny! way, but in a simple “That was supposed to be a joke?” way.) the 90 minute show still provides a good deal of solid laughs, mostly due to an outstanding cast of sketch comedy celebrity impersonators. The folks at Saturday Night Live would be wise to snatch up Kevin Kean Murphy and sign him up for as long as John Kerry remains in the public eye. His hilarious portrayal of the Democratic hopeful shows a stony-faced elitist trying desperately to loosen up. His stiff energy and expert comic sense keeps the evening moving through even the dreariest attempts at humor. Whitney Kirk, Miss Arkansas 2003, drips false sincerity as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Myles Goldin has her daffy moments as Teresa Heinz Kerry. (I won’t give away the ending, but it involves her gleefully squirting The White House with ketchup.) One of the surprises of the show is that President Bush does not go completely unscathed. As played with smug machismo by Jack Fitz (who also has some fun moments as a dirty old Ted Kennedy and a Little Lord Fauntleroy-ish John Edwards) the authors play on his much publicized malaprops and misprononciations. But Fitz shrugs off criticism with an “education is for sissies” attitude. The performances are greatly enhanced by Anka Lupes’ comical collection of costumes and wigs.
Although director Adam Roebuck has his ensemble schticking it up in great form, his staging is too simple to get through the more sluggish sections of the text, and many scene transitions are awkward and long. But while the production may falter here and there, the main goal appears to be to just get the jokes out. And that they do. JFK: He’s No JFK gives us a talented cast partaking in that grand old American tradition of making fun of our leaders through cartoon caricatures. Grab a beer, chew on some hot dogs and have a blast.