How good is Wooly Mammoth’s A Girl’s Guide to Washington Politics? Well let’s take a look at the buzz.
The show blasted through the theatre’s box office before the production opened, breaking every imaginable pre-sale record in the theatre’s 31 year history.
The show’s opening night was attended by not one, not two, but 12 female members of the Senate.
A lot of the buzz can be attributed to the famed Second City. The show was written and is performed by Second City talent. Those that aren’t familiar with the Chicago-based Comedy Conservatory will certainly know some of the many alumni that have walked through those hallowed halls. Notable alumni include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Stephen Colbert amongst many others.
The Second City name and the success of their 2009 production of Barack Stars has given A Girl’s Guide very high expectations. Luckily the show delivers everything you expect: a solid sketch comedy show that follows the recipe for a great night of comedy.
The format is just right: two 45-minute acts comprised of skits, musical pieces, and short bits that are fed to you at a furious pace. Of course not every bit is a hit but with fast tempo you will be in a constant state of laughter. Given the improv-roots of Second City and their writing, the pieces certainly have an improvised feel that is very fresh and off the cuff. In the second act don’t be surprised for a complete musical to be constructed based on the audience’s suggestions.
There is enough local flavor in the show that panders to all the Washingtonians in the house. The stage has a dead-on look of a Metro station down to the blinking red lights that went off a minute prior to the show’s start. The ensemble did enough homework to make the appropriate reference to Books A Million when an audience member suggested Dupont Circle as an improvised location for a sketch.
The production also takes aim all the lampoon-able political topics. If you are a card carrying member of the Tea Party then I’ll tell you this show isn’t for you. Everything from Literacy Tests to Christine O’Donnell are within the show’s cross-hairs. You can also expect send-ups of all the women in politics from Pelosi to Palin. While all the hot topics are touched upon in the show, the performance would probably appeal to those leaning a little bit to the left.
While the show is comedy worthy of the price of admission, the title of the show is a bit of a misnomer. Sure the ensemble is primarily female and thus make up much of the viewpoints, the show doesn’t really examine or break and ground in exploring issues of race in gender. Male characters in the show are portrayed as inept, bumbling, and immature. Not a problem since it gets laughs in the process but nothing new. The show’s lone attempt to explore an issue is done in a late running role reversal sketch that is more uncomfortable than enlightening.
The show tries to be more than it is: a great comedy show. Frankly it shouldn’t, there’s nothing wrong with what it is at all. It’s fast, entertaining, and smart. It doesn’t matter that you don’t walk away enlightened as long as you walk away happy. It’s like sitting down to hamburger dinner- who cares that it’s not the best thing for you, you will finish your meal fully satisfied regardless.