Obama Impersonators

July 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                            4 July 2011


When impersonator Reggie Brown, who looks and sounds a lot like President Obama, told his audience, “February is my favorite month because it’s Black History Month. Michelle, she celebrates the whole month, and I celebrate half.” The crowd loved it. “We need to build tunnels and bridges,” he went on. “That way people will have something to live in or something to jump off of.” Cheers, laughter, applause.

But when Brown crossed the aisle, and some say crossed the line, things got touchy. “The economy is floundering, clinging to life. Just like Newt Gingrich’s campaign.” Dead silence except for a few boos. Brown poked fun at Tim Pawlenty,  Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney, a Mormon, mentioning, “He might make a great president, along with the first lady, the second lady, the third lady.” The performer got the hook. The music rose, his microphone was turned off, then a gentleman walked up beside Brown and escorted him off the stage.

What happened? Brown was in New Orleans speaking to the Republican Leadership Committee, clearly a humorless bunch. Impersonating Obama by ridiculing the President’s problems, non-solutions and mixed race were terribly funny to the GOP stalwarts, but when the comedian turned on conservatives, the crowd bristled.

Brown then re-learned a basic rule of stand-up comedy: Democrats will laugh at Republicans and Republicans will laugh at Democrats. Democrats will actually laugh at themselves, but Republicans will never, ever laugh at themselves or fellow GOPers. It’s a twist on Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment (which was actually coined by then-California Republican Party Chairman Gaylord Parkinson): Never speak ill of a fellow Republican, to which should be added: And never let anyone else do it, either.

I can sympathize with Brown. When I was reporting on the 1988 GOP national convention in – oddly enough – New Orleans, my family joined me. One of my children sat at a luncheon table with several Houston women who, upon discovering he was my son, turned on him with wrath because I had poked fun at their party. A class act.

Politics has always been a basis of humor. The Greeks and Romans had some, as did Shakespeare, although the Bard’s subtle nuances are lost on today’s SpongeBob fans.   Mark Twain and Will Rogers became quite wealthy with pithy, and mostly gentle, comments on their politicos. Although they could be mean: Twain: “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” Rogers: “Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

Later came Art Buchwald and William Buckley who could be hilarious, but in a civilized way. Today we have the late-night comedians (Leno, Letterman, etc.) who generally play both sides of the political street. “Comedy Central” and “The Colbert Report” are left-leaning shows, which liberals find humorous. Rachel Maddow slings caustic shots at the GOP, but always has a smile on her face.

Then we have Sean Hannity on the right and Keith Olbermann on the left. Both have the same angry, divisiveness, us-against-them shtick. And their humor is based on the same theme: something terrible happened to the other side. “I’ll be back with some bad economic news, hehehe.” That was a recent Hannity statement. Olbermann wallows in the Republicans’ problems. Neither laughs with a joyous ha-ha-ha. No, it’s more of a low-toned, evil hehehe. Their delight is beyond schadenfreude. It all depends on whether we are laughing WITH or laughing AT. There’s a huge difference.

For our pols, humor is complicated. We don’t like them too funny – it borders on being a lightweight. Al Franken was a professional comedian until he became a senator. He’s no longer a comedian. But we have always liked self-deprecating humor from them.  Abraham Lincoln, aware that he wasn’t too handsome, said about his political opponents’ charges: “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”

Sen. John Tower used to tell this joke on himself. He was going to make a speech in a little East Texas town. Everyone closed down their business and went to the town square for Tower’s speech. One merchant was racing to the event when he noticed that Billy Bob, the tailor, was still in his shop, sewing along. The merchant shouted: “Close your shop. Senator Tower is coming to town!”

Billy Bob thought for a moment and said, “You don’t think he’d rob me in broad daylight, do you?”

As for Reggie Brown, he owns the best presidential impersonation since Steve Bridges’ take on George W. Bush. Together at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, Bush & Bridges broke up the crowd. Rich Little still does Richard Nixon, who’s been dead for 17 years. What’s next, Little? “Now, I’d like to do my impression of Thomas Jefferson eating oatmeal.” But there’s a down side to a one-pony show: Vaughn Meader had a terrific impersonation of JFK. The day Kennedy was shot, Meader told his wife, “My career just died, too.” It did.

Reggie Brown has to be careful because he performs before both parties, so he diplomatically said he was pulled because his act may have been running long. The Republicans had told him to do 15-20 minutes. He was removed after 18 minutes and 15 seconds. (You can watch it on YouTube.) The GOP said he was making racial jokes, which they didn’t like. “I didn’t hear any boos on any of the racial jokes,” Brown said. “The president, like myself, shares a mixed background.”

Brown also said he always directs potential clients to his act on his web site which features his show – pretty much the same one, same jokes. GOP head honcho Charlie Davis told CNN: “We have zero tolerance for racially insensitive jokes.” Maybe for some political jokes, too. In any event, it is clear the GOP has just reinforced its deserved reputation as having no sense of humor. We must suspect my e-mails will simply prove the point.


Ashby ha-ha-has at ashby2@comcast.net




Miller Outdoor Theatre August 2011 Calendar

July 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

There’s something for everyone on stage at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park.  From daytime programs especially for young children to family friendly evening performances of music, dance, theatre and more, this is Houston’s best entertainment value.  Admission is FREE!
For a complete schedule, visit www.milleroutdoortheatre.com<http://www.milleroutdoortheatre.com> .

Please note important change in Tickets and Seating policy and procedure this 2011:
***ALL performances except for movies and the daytime children’s performances require tickets for assigned seating under the canopy.
Free tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m.—1 p.m. for assigned seating under the canopy. If tickets remain at 1 p.m., the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill.
Under normal circumstances, all unoccupied/unclaimed seats are released 5 minutes before the show is scheduled to begin. We encourage all patrons to be in their assigned seats at least 10 minutes before showtime to insure that their seat is not released. Again, there is NO charge for tickets. Tickets may not be reserved by phone. Only four (4) tickets per person. At managements’ discretion, all unoccupied seats may be released at any time for any reason.

Denotes free assigned seats available for covered seating area.

Denotes captioned performance.

Denotes audio description

Houston Shakespeare Festival

Produced by Houston Shakespeare Festival


July 29, 31, August 2, 4 and 6, 8:30 p.m.

(Captioned performance July 29; Audio description August 4)

Iago, one of the theatre’s greatest villains, draws the outsider General Othello, his beautiful wife Desdemona, the young lieutenant Cassio, into a whirlpool of jealousy.

Taming of the Shrew

July 30, August 3, 5 and 7, 8:30 p.m.

(Captioned performance August 4; Audio description August 3)

Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy of two headstrong people crashing together returns to the Miller Stage.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Aug. 10, 11 a.m.

Follow Alice down the rabbit hole and into a land like no other!  There are caucus races, tea parties, rhyming caterpillars, playing cards, and of course, that dreaded Queen of Hearts. Children will delight in this fresh adaptation that brings them right into the center of the action.

Adapted by Robb Brunson

Produced by InterActive Theater Company

The Hobbit

Aug. 11 and 12, 11 a.m.

Bilbo Baggins is on an adventure! With the help of his friends Gandalf and Thorin, he must bring back a treasure guarded by a dragon.

From Tolkien, author of the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy, this much-loved fantasy novel comes to life as hobbit Bilbo Baggins is pushed into an adventure of dragon-sized proportions. Setting off on an unexpected quest with Gandalf the wizard and Thorin the dwarf, Bilbo must win back a treasure guarded by a real dragon. Overcoming obstacles with his wits and good common sense, Bilbo discovers his true treasure, wisdom.

Produced by A. D. Players

Movies at Miller – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Aug. 11, 8 p.m.

George Lucas continues his most popular franchise’s legacy with Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a computer-animated 3-D film that takes place between Star Wars: Episode II and III. The first-ever animated feature from Lucasfilm Animation, this action-packed space adventure follows the heroic Jedi Knights as they attempt to maintain order and restore peace during a time of monumental galactic strife.

Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Aug. 12, 8:30 p.m.

The Tony Award-winning musical that honors the legacy of Fats Waller comes to Miller. Song after song, complete immersion into a time when every woe and joy was best expressed in song.

Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

KILT Summer Jam

Aug. 13, 8 p.m.

The KILT Summer Jam is a two-weekend summer concert series. Stealing Angels and Houston Native Cory Morrow kick off the series. Caroline Cutbirth, Jennifer  Wayne and Tayla Lynn are Stealing Angels. If the trio’s last names sound familiar, they should. These young women are descended from American icons that include country great Loretta Lynn, film legend John Wayne and American folk hero Daniel Boone.  Cory Morrow will headline the show that includes music from his latest album Brand New Me. Music started Morrow’s journey and music has reinvigorated him.  Behind his latest songs and surrounded by a band of touring musicians among the best to be found anywhere, Morrow shows no signs of giving up his throne as one of the best Texas has to offer.

Presented by 100.3 KILT and Miller Outdoor Theatre

Movies at Miller – Back to the Future Trilogy Part I

Aug. 16, 8 p.m.

Miller screens the entire trilogy featuring Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and the eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) as they travel through time in their famous DeLorean. Accidentally zapped back into the 1950s, Marty inadvertently interferes with the budding romance of his now-teenaged parents. Our hero must reunite his parents-to-be, lest he cease to exist in the 1980s. It won’t be easy, especially with the loutish Biff, now also a teenager, complicating matters.

DeLorean’s on the Plaza courtesy of DeLorean Motor Company and the DeLorean Club of Texas.

Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

Movies at Miller – Back to the Future Trilogy Part II

Aug. 17, 8 p.m.

Miller screens the entire trilogy featuring Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and the eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) as they travel through time in their famous DeLorean. Things have barely settled from the excitement and resolve of the original Back to the Future, when in pops that crazy inventor Doc with news that in order to prevent a series of events that could ruin the McFly name for posterity, Marty and his girlfriend are whisked into the future to the year 2015.  DeLorean’s on the Plaza courtesy of DeLorean Motor Company and the DeLorean Club of Texas.

Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

Movies at Miller – Back to the Future Trilogy Part III

Aug. 18, 8 p.m.

Miller screens the entire trilogy featuring Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and the eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) as they travel through time in their famous DeLorean. The final installment in the Back to the Future trilogy picks up where the second film left off.

DeLorean’s on the Plaza courtesy of DeLorean Motor Company and the DeLorean Club of Texas.

Presented by Miller Outdoor Theatre

Journey Through China

Aug. 19, 11 a.m.

Come learn about the cultures, traditions and regions of China through exciting and beautiful Chinese Dances.  Dance of Asian America will bring you authentic Chinese dances by dancers of all ages.  Program includes hands-on participation.

Produced by Dance of Asian America


August 19, 8 p.m.

Gourds front man Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell and his side project band deliver one of the most interesting roots music experiences around. A revolving line up of Austin talent has evolved into the current top notch band; Gourd drummer, Keith Langford, Cerebral Pony Bass man Jeff Brown and Kentucky Fried Keyboard Whiz Winfield Cheek.

KILT Summer Jam

Aug. 20, 8 p.m.

The KILT Summer Jam is a two-weekend summer concert series. The final night will feature The Lunabelles and Micky and the Motorcars. The Lunabelles are a four-female band with sibling harmonies and lots of different instruments. Micky and the Motorcars, with their own brand of Americana rock, bring an optimism and integrity a band only acquires when it has been performing so long the only thing left to tell is the truth.
Presented by 100.3 KILT and Miller Outdoor Theatre

Fall for Dominic Walsh Dance Theater

Aug. 26, 8 p.m.

Dominic Walsh Dance Theater will kick off another electrifying season with a dynamic program of audience favorites. Works include Walsh’s inventive Time out of Line that merges dance, visual art, and video along with his powerful solo set to Claude Debussy’s popular Clair de Lune. With a unique mix of technical virtuosity, innovation, and collaboration, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater is one of this country’s leading contemporary ballet companies.

Produced by Dominic Walsh Dance Theater

A Tribute to the Big Band Era: Igniting the Flame; Passing the Torch

Aug. 27, 8 p.m.

The National performing Artists Conrad O.Johnson Regional Youth Orchestra shares the spotlight with The Shellman, jazz great trombonist Steve Turre of Saturday Night Live in “A Tribute to the Big Band Era: Igniting The Flame; Passing The Torch.”  The exciting show will feature original compositions and arrangements by our late Founder, Conrad O. Johnson, as well as other big band greats, such as Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington. The Conrad O. Johnson Regional Youth Orchestra will be led by Claude Robinson and William Portis.

Produced by The Conrad Johnson Music and Fine Arts Foundation

Sarah Pendley




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