Spotlight: Saturday Night FEMA

The Brave New Workshop drops Bush in the Katrina dunk tank

Our comedian-in-chief uncorked one of the great one-liners in recent American history following Hurricane Katrina ("Heck of a job, Brownie"). Some thought Dubya's routine verged on tasteless, but he earned extra Dada points for breaking out ace material in the face of mind-blowing tragedy. Six months later, the Brave New Workshop wades into the same lethally polluted waters, with a show that mixes satire with a sharp and lucid rebuke of governmental incompetence in the storm's aftermath. The first act mixes in a high-speed timeline of events as they played out on the Gulf Coast last year, in case anyone has forgotten the details. It's an interesting device that works well, reminding the audience of the show's primary point: All the spin in the world can't hold back a gargantuan storm. Along the way we have Dubya sleeping the sleep of the just while dreaming of flying rescue missions on jetpacks with Walker, Texas Ranger. And then there's Crazy May (Lauren Anderson), a gunslinging maniac gone wild in the disaster zone. The second act hinges on a thin telethon concept that is wisely underemphasized, though one highlight is Joe Bozic's Tewilliger the clown, who dispenses helpful tips on avian flu. Likewise, Mike Fotis is solid throughout, with an uninhibited presence and holy-shit desperation lurking beneath his funnier moments, such as when he plays a Louisianan being informed of the details of his relocation to Minnesota. And at the end of the storm, the advice that lingers may be Fotis's: In a hurricane, do not drive your Chevy to the levee, even if they're offering you whiskey and rye.

 
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