Tulsa Gridiron brings 2012 current events satire to PAC show this weekend
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 6:09 AM
To understand the democratic principles that are the foundation of this nation, seek not in the halls of Congress, nor in the confines of the Oval Office, nor even at a Tulsa City Council meeting.
Instead, look to the annual Tulsa Gridiron.
"We are, pure and simple, democracy in action," said Rebecca Ungerman. "Young or old, black or white, Republican or Democratic, national figure or local folk - we're going to be making fun of you.
"Our show is an equal opportunity offender," she said with a laugh.
The Tulsa Gridiron - in which professional entertainers, enthusiastic amateurs, cynical journalists and wide-eyed innocents take to the stage to lampoon some of the highlights and lowlifes of the previous year's news cycle through songs and skits - has been a local tradition for something on the order of 80 years.
Which is the reason behind the title of this year's show, which uses about as many words and as much convoluted syntax as the typical Oklahoma House bill: "Vision Trouble, or Help! We've Fallen Off the Fiscal Cliff and We Can't Get Up: The First Annual 80th Anniversary Show."
"We know that Gridiron shows go back at least 80 years," Ungerman said. "But there were some years when there was no show. So we figure we're kind of in the ballpark to say that this is the 80th anniversary."
Because of that, the show will have a few numbers from past productions - President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term earlier this week, so Ungerman promises a reprise of a song from the 2009 show about Obama as president, along with a new song about how Obama has been "re-elected / and it feels so good ..."
That is another hallmark of Gridiron shows - familiar melodies from pop music, show tunes and jazz standards getting fitted with new lyrics about political shenanigans or pop cultural kerfuffles.
It's all done to raise money for scholarships offered by area colleges to journalism and communications students.
The show's writers - this year, 15 people contributed to the script - meet and pitch ideas as to what should be spoofed.
"The funny thing about the process," said Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World reporter and the Gridiron's head writer, "is that the topics we think we absolutely have to include when we meet for the first time are ones that never end up in the finished show.
"For example, we thought about doing something with that 'Gangnam Style' song, that we were thinking of turning into 'Romney Style,' but that never quite worked out," he said.
Some of the topics that will be held up for good-natured ridicule include the shuttering of Hostess and the end of Twinkies as we know them, the failure of the Vision2 package in November, and the unexpected and rapid departures of the University of Tulsa's recently hired president and its athletic director.
"Coincidentally, both those events happened on Tuesdays," Ungerman said, "so the song we're using for that is Katy Perry's 'Last Friday Night,' but we're inserting 'Tuesday.' "
The show's cast includes 35 performers, including Darell Christopher, Lisa Cole, Jane Duenner, Dave Garcia, Paul Henry, Mvnte July, Kathy LaFortune, Liz Masters, Rebecca Marks, D.J. Morrow Ingram, Heather Richetto-Rumley and Cynthia Simmons. Former TV meteorologist Julie Chin serves as the production's "interlocutor."
Terry Cooper is the show's music director, leading a band that includes Scott McQuade on keyboards, Alan Ransom on bass, Breanna Anderson on guitar and drummer Damon Daniel.
Former state Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre will be the recipient of the "Roasting Ear" Award, presented to the local public figure who was a most obvious target for satire.
"And she's coming to the show both nights to receive this award," Ungerman said. "That's another thing about the Gridiron. The people we have fun with usually aren't upset when they're in the show - they get upset when they're NOT in the show. We've even had some people give us pointers on how we might spoof them, and we always are willing to take their advice."
presents “Vision Trouble, or
Help! We’ve fallen over the
fiscal Cliff and we Can’t Get
When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Where: Doenges Theatre,
Tulsa PAC, 110 E. Second St.
Tickets: $27-$50. 918-596-
Original Print Headline: Politically hilarious
James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478
The annual Tulsa Gridiron will celebrate its 80th anniversary this year. Courtesy