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Sexagenarian Satirist Busts A New Rhyme

Washington, D.C.
Republican Governors

They picked their Presidential candidate 1.5 years before the election. They stump for him with the passion of Michael Jackson at an Elian Gonzalez interview. They meet and meet, strategize, and come out sounding stupider every day.

Michigan Governor John Engler stood red-faced live on CNN when marble-mouthed Bernie Shaw announced John McCain had defeated Bushie, the gubernatorial fave. Engler stammered: "Really? Ah, well, the Chicago Tribune said Dewey defeated Truman." Good one, John.

Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci---who was elected on the same doubletalking sorta-Republican-kinda-Democrat schtick that McCain currently espouses---stands at his State House and says, "Ah, as you know, we have a very narrow Republican base here."

Yes, they’re everywhere, those GOP guvs. McCain says they’re greedy because they’ve called for the power to tax sales on the Internet (he’s right, they are), and they hold news conferences calling McCain names. They listen to Bushie speechify---if that’s what you can call it---and numbingly nod about the nothingness that is "Compassionate Conservatism" (wethinks the slogan "Military Intelligence" was taken).

Wow. Blind faith in the Republican Party. And Pat Robertson’s name hasn’t even come up...

Political comedian Mark Russell, whose specials have been running on public television stations since 1975, is changing his image from a bowtie-wearing ragtime-playing dandy to a hard-core rapper for his next special.

"I've been aping Tom Lehrer since the Sixties," explained Russell, born Mark Ruslander, but now insisting on being called Gansta DC. "But the other night, I was flipping through the channels looking for Frontline, and there it was, like a bolt of lightning---The Grammy Awards."

Russell, 67, said he was "taken to school" by the musical styles he encountered on that telecast. Apparently, kids today are not really singing, but reciting rhyming lyrics to heavy backbeats. This was a revelation to me. I realized that I'd come as far as I could singing my lyrics to cute, well-worn piano ditties." Before seeing the performances of the Grammy nominees, Russell always accompanied himself by standing at his piano wearing a suit, bowtie, and glasses.

Here's one of the typically slight pieces of political satire he wrote for his next PBS special, originally to be sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town":

(first verse)

You better watch out

I don't want a flap

'Cause Hillary's wearin'

A Yankee cap

Hillary is Coming to Town

(second verse)

She's making a list

Of people with dough

She'll pander to them and

Give it a go

Hillary is Coming to Town

(bridge)

She's jeering Giuliani

She gets as good as she gives

She wants to rule New York 'cause that's where

Monica Lewinsky lives...Hey!

(final verse)

She's meeting with Sharpton

Buying a house

Anything to get

Away from her spouse

Hillary is Coming to Town

In the hip-hop version, Russell will rap those lyrics, but the presentation will be drastically changed. He'll be preceded on the stage of his usual Buffalo venue by Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer, who will warm up the crowd of retirees with, "Party people in the hey-yowz! I said, party people in the hey-yowz! Listen all y'all, put 'em together for Gansta DC!" Against a driving backbeat, Russell will then walk on the stage in baggy cargo pants, sunglasses, parka, backwards baseball cap and sneakers.

Russell hasn't told the usually stuffy PBS about his new musical direction yet, but he's not worried. "I think they will give me my drops. Oh, dear, I mean props!"

Angry Girl