Do the White Thing | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Do the White Thing 

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If you've endured the new Saturday Night Live, you might think satire is dead in America. But Do the White Thing, now in its third year of skewering bureaucrats, politics by crisis, and Jesse Jackson's personificating rhetoric, is a cure for despair, a skilled set of ever-updated skits by two deft hipsters, political satirist Aaron Freeman and economics comic and composer Rob Kolson. Following Freeman's credo that "everything in your life ends up in your act," their revue has grown as smart as the times have turned stupid. The show's longevity owes much to the contrast between the two--the gravel-voiced Freeman, with his deadpan wit and sly delivery, and the peppy libertarian Kolson, with his impish parodies and salacious lyrics ("She'll have a yen to pound my franc")--and to their confident inspired improvisation based on the day's headlines (displayed on stage). The tactics fit the targets: Arab / Israeli stubbornness gets spoofed in "West Bank Story," Capra's aggeressive happy ending takes on a sad new meaning in "It's a Wonderful Bailout." Their politicized take on Abbott and Costello's classic "Who's on First?" cuts like a laser. The night I was there, Freeman made up a country ballad about popcorn, of all things, that would have cracked up the audience at a funeral. Of the many pungent jokes, here's a (bad) taste: "What does Mike Tyson smell like after he has sex?" "Mace." Steppenwolf Theatre North, open run (2851 N. Halsted, 472-1919). Thursdays, 8 PM; Fridays, 8:30 PM; Saturdays, 6:30 and 9:30 PM; Sundays 3 anad 7 PM. $18.50-$26.50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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