Let’s be real: This is going to be a weird week.
Eagles Club #34
$10/$12 at the door
With the inauguration of the 45th president this Friday, and the likely commencement of the Purge on Saturday (we assume), Thursday night might be your last chance to enjoy your civil liberties. To commemorate the occasion, roughly two dozen coordinated comedy shows called What a Joke will happen across the country to raise funds for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Minneapolis is joining in the festivities with a massive show at the Eagles Club organized by comedians Mary Mack and Rana May, along with Comedy Corner Underground kingpin Bob Edwards.
“A couple of different things made me want to get involved,” says Mack. “Death threats against reporters was one. Another was that Trump has threatened to enforce or create a stronger libel law. I'm not sure of the details of that, but as a comic who normally gets to say whatever she wants, it was a big "oh-oh" moment. Lastly, I really wanted to jump in when Trump supporters started yelling at me on my own Facebook page claiming I had no right to voice my political opinions on my comedy page. What is happening? They were incensed that I had said something political when I usually don't do political material in my show.”
May’s motivation for getting involved began long before this past November.
“Ever since Mr. Carl’s 12th grade AP government class I've been deeply in love with the ACLU,” she says. “They're going to have a busy four years.”
Given the incredible amount of real-life satire playing out each day in the news, some might assume that a Trump presidency may actually be a positive for comedians looking for new material. However, May is quick to point out that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Life is weird, difficult, and unfair, and we don't need to have our neighbors and our friends and our own rights, health, and safety threatened in order to do good comedy,” she says. “Comedians already have a higher than average amount of mental and physical health issues, and barely eke out a living wage. A Trump presidency is going to be detrimental to them in so many different ways. Half the people on this show won't be able to afford their healthcare in 2018 due to pre-existing conditions. The point is we don't need added terror and tragedy to be funny.”
While the tone of the evening will obviously be charged, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. In fact, audience members are encouraged to bring their unwanted holiday gifts for a holiday re-gifting opportunity, where they’ll be able to trade some unwanted crap for something better (yep, it’s a political metaphor).
Clearly this won’t be an event for you to bond with your conservative aunt and uncle over, but it might be one of the most thought-provoking, conversation-starting comedy shows of the year, if for no other reason than the impassioned women hosting the evening.
“Of course I'm going to speak out against Trump; I'm a woman,” Mack continues. “He is disrespectful to women, among many other groups in society. These Facebook friends [who argued with her over her political views] don't realize all the discrimination I've fought against as a woman to get up onstage and do any material at all, even if it isn't political."
"I've also faced sexual harassment in many situations," she continues. "I remember at one club in Kentucky, the owner said he would pay me, but I'd have to come up to his office and get spanked in order for him to hand over my check. He was dead serious. Have any of these assholes complaining about me voicing my political opinion had that ultimatum in order to just receive their paycheck? I think I've earned the right to voice an opinion and to stand up for women. Trump encourages an environment that is negative against women and minorities. The American Civil Liberties Union might be all we have to protect us.”
While both hosts agree that the next four years are likely to be a marathon of anger and sadness, on this night before we usher in the new era of America, we can band together through laughter.
“I hope people who are angry and upset get to have a little fun for a couple hours with us and with each other,” says May.
Mack and May will host tonight's event, which will also include Maggie Faris, Greg Coleman, and Mary Jo Pehl of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame, along with punk-poet Paul Dickinson, and blues group Circle of Heat. The event will be equal parts variety show, protest, and massive party.
IF YOU GO:
What a Joke ACLU Benefit
The Eagles Club
8 p.m. Thursday, January 19
Click here for details
Eagles Club #34
$10/$12 at the door