Brave New Workshop takes on American politics
The cast of Brave New Workshop's The Wolf of Walmart
Perhaps it's telling that the political mood of the latest Brave New Workshop revue, The Wolf of Walmart, is one of exhaustion. In an early sketch, a horse running for Congress ends up being the best choice — because his silence means he won't be able to put his hoof in his mouth.
Politics have been the bread and butter of the Brave New Workshop since Dudley Riggs founded it back in 1958. But this time out, the sharpest knives are saved for America's real political leaders: the soulless big-box corporations that have been granted full citizenship, and the internet, where democracy now lives.
This is brought out via sketches, commentary, and song, including a rap battle where Walmart takes on rivals like Target and Pamida. While there isn't an overarching plot, a looming presence is the World's Largest Retailer.
Walmart, the fictitious sponsor of the show, wants a happier, more cheerful opening song that includes name-checks on various products, like pool noodles. (Note to anyone planning a comedy revue: Pool noodles are always funny.)
The internet and how it affects every portion of our lives also gets plenty of space. The best of these moments come when a couple of haughty young Buzzfeed/Upworthy employees (played to snotty perfection by Taj Ruler and Tom Reed) explain to a pair of New York Times elders how to get people to read their stories online. The reporters want to address the implications of the latest budget agreement. The youngsters object, noting that the only way to get readers is with misleading headlines or "polls" of questionable scientific value. It's probably the best explanation of "clickbait" you're ever going to hear.
Later on, we get a parody TV show called Rumor, where most of the action is just a recap of the previous short scene. Ruler and Reed — along with the super-sassy Lauren Anderson — leave us hanging on every segment.
The Wolf of Walmart isn't the sharpest Brave New Workshop revue, but the company's breakneck pace smooths over the trouble spots to create a show that's entertaining and often funny.
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