Friday, December 8, 2017

A Cathartic Polarizing Express

Things these days are just ridiculous, aren't they? 



I mean you have to laugh at what's going on, or you'll go crazy. It seems like every morning we wake up to new news about something horrendous beyond imagination, and if you can't find a way to smile through it you'll never get out of an unshakeable depression.

If you need help finding the silver lining in the absolute absurdity of current events, look no further than the Brave New Workshop (BNW). The longest running satirical comedy theater in the United States, BNW has been bringing a comedic perspective to current events for more than 60 years and is the perfect place to let off some steam in the face of the outlandish state of things. BNW's current show The Polarizing Express blends the holidays and politics to provide an on-point critique and self-flagellation that will give you laughter therapy for days. Here were some of my favorite sketches:


  • The show opens with an incredible spoof on the opening scene of The Music Man. For the uninitiated, this scene involves a series of traveling salesmen bouncing as if on a train while they recite a rhythmic line of gossip about incoming salesman Harold Hill. BNW has taken this intro - some of it verbatim - and slightly twisted it to address current headlines about politics. It's an absolutely hilarious spoof and thoroughly delighted my inner musical theater nerd. 
  • Denzel Belin does a magical number about vogueing through the holidays that had me in stitches. Don't know what vogueing is? Watch Paris is Burning, stat (and shame on you!).
  • Lauren Anderson stars in a sketch about a mom getting high on a marijuana-laced fruitcake that was outlandish and fun and more realistic than any of us would like to admit. 
  • The cast visits Whoville, where the Grinch's relatives the Granch (a health food obsessed Grinch); the Grunch (a brunch cooking Grinch); and the Grench (a trench digging Grinch) surprise Cindy Lou Who. 
  • Ryan Nelson sings a Seth McFarlane-esque ballad to his fears of being alone at the holidays, including his fear of pet cats. 
  • Rhonda, one of Santa's elves, is in charge of Santa's sex toy division. Two elves pay her a visit and are inundated with innuendo (this sketch was so good it could easily star on Saturday Night Live).
  • Per holiday tradition, BNW wraps up the show with a refreshed rendition of the "12 Days of Christmas." This year the featured verses include cats not counting as grandkids; black hipsters; Chewbacca Christmas; nosy neighbors hating on your noisy Christmas lights; marijuana mom; guilt-inducing grandma; Amazon's Alexa; your dad who won't turn up the thermostat; and how the Superbowl will ruin your life (#truuuuuue). 
  • As always, the core cast members (Lauren Anderson, Ryan Nelson and Taj Ruler) are thoroughly hilarious. Denzel Belin, who has become another core team member, seems to have really found his comedic footing and was wonderful in his scenes. Newer cast member Heather Meyer has a very different comedic style that took me a bit to understand but I really enjoyed by the end - it's a more cerebral humor and added some depth to the show that made it fresh. 


For more information about The Polarizing Express or to buy tickets, make sure to head to the BNW website by clicking on this link. And if you want more information about BNW and past shows, check out my previous reviews: