In Performance: grand old anarchist | Calendar | Chicago Reader

In Performance: grand old anarchist 

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Power isn't only the ultimate aphrodisiac, it's the ultimate hallucinogen--and satirist Paul Krassner has been talking America through the bad trips of its leaders for the last 40 years. A veteran stand-up comic, seminal figure in the underground press, and cofounder of the Yippie party, Krassner fuses absurd fact with freewheeling fantasy in his biting, sometimes bilious humor, which skewers the rampant paranoia, hypocrisy, delusion, and warped sexuality that infect public figures regardless of race, religion, or ideological orientation. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, Lyndon Johnson, Henry Kissinger, Clarence Thomas, Marion Barry, Dan Quayle, and many more have been the targets of Krassner's scathing, raunchy political parodies--and you're never quite sure what's fiction and what's not. (When Quayle was prepping for federal drug tests, Krassner asserts, he sent away for some drug-free powdered urine that Barry had tipped him off to; when the powder arrived he poured it into a glass--and then peed in it.)

"I'm quite proud of my false humility," says Krassner in his new collection of essays, The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race. He's entitled. Not nearly as well known as the comic coconspirators he's outlived, such as Lenny Bruce and Abbie Hoffman, Krassner is nonetheless a grand old anarchist of countercultural comedy--a sort of cross between Mort Sahl and William S. Burroughs, but much more idiosyncratic than that description suggests. He's made an art of going "too far": this is the guy who hoodwinked some people and enraged many others by publishing "deleted passages" from William Manchester's famous book on the Kennedy assassination, in which LBJ is accused of altering the angle of JFK's fatal bullet wound with an act of necrophilia.

Now 63, Krassner is in town to put his unique spin on the Democratic convention. Under the auspices of Prop Theatre, he'll participate in Wild Bill and the Eco Kid: A Comedy Convention, an evening of humor and discussion that also features Aaron Freeman, Del Close, and Jeff Dorchen at ImprovOlympic, 3541 N. Clark, on Thursday, August 22, at 10 PM; tickets are $10. On Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24, at 11 PM, he'll headline Night of the Living Yippie!! at the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport; tickets are $15 in advance, $17.50 at the door. For information on all performances call 486-7767.

--Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo of Paul Krassner.

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