Double Double-Headers as ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION & LOCALLY GROWN FESTIVAL COME TO A CLOSE

Our winter of 6 new commissions wraps up today with the final two performances of The Kinsey Sicks’ comedy which rocks out on weekends like nobody’s business. The week night performances were fine — the weekend are PARTIES! Congrats to them on last night’s double-performance, first at 7:00 and then at 9:30 — with all of about a 15 minute break in between, once sales at the “merch table” were wrapped up. What pros! What endurance! And two final shows today, at 3 and 7:30. We had two different post-show talk-backs on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and we’re waiting on UM/UC/ND student reaction to come in as well — an eye-opening experience for many, no doubt!

Today at 5 also brings us the final presentation of our Locally Grown reading series — the 4th iteration of Jon Spelman’s THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES which has found a fantastic shape and structure to it through a very simple, thorough process of working through the text so very many times with a brilliant writer (Jon) performing his words and being entirely open to editing suggestions. Very pleased and impressed for and with Jon — and filled with satisfaction for this winter of new work that took root and was appreciated by so many.

36 thoughts on “Double Double-Headers as ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION & LOCALLY GROWN FESTIVAL COME TO A CLOSE

  1. I was very excited to see this production, but I was wholly unprepared for Electile Dysfunction. I didn’t realize how outrageous and incredibly satirical the show would be. As someone who has liberal political ideologies, I found it hilarious. But even though I was on the same page as the actors on stage, I felt uncomfortable at times, particularly with some of the audience interactions. However, I fully appreciated how far The Kinsey Sicks went on topics of immigration, contraception, and sexual orientation, which are all issues I care about. Their form of political satire is like nothing else our there, not even Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. Out of all the productions I’ve seen this semester, this was the most obvious example of political theater. It related directly to current events in the Republican primary as well as the main issues in the debates.
    I’m glad The Kinsey Sicks exist because as a few of the actors pointed out in the talkback after the show, much of what Trampolina, Winnie, Trixie, and Rachel say would never come out of the mouth of your average person. But while their jokes and songs were extreme and jarring and sometimes uncomfortable, the message they were projecting was necessary. First of all, a lot of political rhetoric on both sides of the aisle is complete bullshit and The Kinsey Sicks made that very clear. Second, while I don’t think they were making fun of all Republicans, they made it clear that much of what the so-called far right believes is not only racist, but also ridiculous. While I don’t think this show would influence a conservative thinker to reconsider their beliefs, I hope that it would reinforce the beliefs of a liberal thinker. As Ben Schatz, who plays Rachel, said in the talk back, they go to conservative towns all over the country, so it is the goal of The Kinsey Sicks to empower the select few who are progressive.
    I’d like to draw attention to the high level of experience in gay rights activism shared by the actors in The Kinsey Sicks. Irwin Keller, who plays Winnie, was a lawyer who wrote an city ordinance for gay rights and Schatz was an AIDS activist who was appointed to [] by President Clinton. I think this fact serves to demonstrate how much of this group is about activism and now just being a riveting drag show. I applaud The Kinsey Sicks and their form of activism and they serve as an inspiration to me to think outside of the box as I continue in my own activism work.

    • Andrea, I had no idea about the actors’ political involvement and activism. I think that adds another dimension to the work that they do. I think that often it is taken for granted just how much the arts have the ability to influence thoughts and perceptions. Sometimes, comedy—even drag— has the ability to reach out to and to persuade individuals to take a stand for what they believe in. I, too, was unprepared for Elective Dysfunction, it is not a play that is easily forgotten, and I think that by going over the top with the satire, they were really able to reach their audience and drive the message home.

    • Andrea, I really like your point about how this show aims to empower the few who are progressive in the conservative regions. It really rings a bell. There is a well-known Chinese saying that goes like “it is easier to change a nation’s territory than to change a man’s mind”. There are certainly many conservatives around who refuses any change, needless to say that of their mind. It is indeed true that there are still many moderates in this country who are constantly facing the pressure from the conservative minds. Empowering this people is certainly the right thing to do. A blasting performance like the Electile Dysfunction can certainly play the role. Just by sitting in their seat throughout the show, the moderates are already exposed to liberalism. If they laugh, it will be a bonus, because they accept the points.
      I do also agree that a performance like this one can hardly change the conservatives’ mind. This show carries an image so flashy and funny that it appears to set out for a short emotional impact instead of a long lasting mental impact. It lacks the elements that can really set a conservative mind into uncertainty.

    • Andrea, as a progressive myself i identified strongly with your reaction to “Electile Dysfunction” however i take issue with your interpretation of the mission of the Kinsey Sicks. I agree that the Kinsey Sicks’ aim was to draw attention to some crazy things said by Conservatives, however i disagree that their aim was to “empower the select few who are progressive.” First, I feel that by using that terminology you are making it seem like being a progressive is something exclusive and above everyone else. Second, i think that while each of them do have great experience in political activism, they made it clear that what they say in character is totally different from what they would say in real life, so i’m not sure you can totally bridge that gap between the theater and the real world. Calling Rick Santorum a “sheep fucker” doesn’t really help further progressive goals outside of the comedic confines of this play.

      • Thanks for your comment, Will. I don’t think that being a progressive means being an elitist, and I don’t feel that Schatz’s comment was meant to be taken in that way either. In many parts of the country where the Kinsey Sicks performs, those who identify as progressive are a small minority in their communities. With their extremely outlandish language, The Kinsey Sicks’ performances could have the power to push those people to take action within those communities and have their voices heard. I don’t feel that The Kinsey Sicks’ are actually encouraging sane political activists to use the characters’ type of language to further their cause.

    • I second the part about the activism, these guys are really smart and out their doing what they are really passionate about (I mean so are other actors) but it shows their involvement past beyond the arena.

  2. After watching a performance of Electile Dysfunction on Thursday night, I can honestly say that it was like nothing I have ever experienced. Though I would not have normally picked to go to the show (I attended for class), I ended up appreciating the uniqueness of the work and its novel take towards political satire.

    When one thinks of a typical satire, it mostly takes place in an arena that closely mirrors the situation or event that the work is satirizing. In Electile Dysfunction, however, a completely ridiculous, unrealistic situation is used to satirize the very real GOP 2012 primary race. The performance willingly forgoes a realistic premise and embraces the absurdity of a drag queen singing quartet running for president. They play up the absurdity of the issue to match the ridiculousness that the GOP primary has often become. Instead of choosing to mirror the actual event directly, Electile Dysfunction uses its outlandish premise to point out how outrageous aspects of the GOP primary really are.

    I think that this strategy is effective in some ways, yet a hindrance in others. On the one hand, it is an aid to point out just how ridiculous and irrational some parts of the primary season have been. The fact that a drag queen singing quartet is able to serve as a vehicle to mock the GOP is reason in itself to analyze just how absurd the GOP primary has been. On the other hand, the distance between the actual happenings and the drag queen quartet blunts some of the mockery. The fact that the work is so far removed from reality takes away some of its potency in its ability to criticize real world events. While I realize that the point of the play is to push the limits of the issues and to be absurd, I thought that this strategy caused the work to lose a little of its effectiveness.

    Overall, the originality of the play, coupled with the fantastic integration of the audience in certain parts, made for an enjoyable experience. While the satire might not have been perfect, Electile Dysfunction proved to be extremely entertaining.

    • I really enjoyed your comments on the performance and I agree with many of the points that you made. I agree that by embracing the absurdity is a creative way of going about presenting the same absurdity found in the GOP race. However, I will disagree with you that satire has to mirror the real situation and the polar opposite of the real situation can also be satirical. Orwell’s “Animal Farm” is a classic example. I do agree that sometimes the absurdity of the work distances what is really going on and lost some of the effectiveness. Structurally, Orwell mirrors society and that is where I think the performance also lost some of its effectiveness.

      • Sara, I would like to know what you mean by a show that structurally mirrors the society. I agree with Michael that the Kinsey Sicks’ campaign mirrors the GOP race in a abstract rather than a realistic manner. But I reckon that when such mirroring is in a more abstract form, it is intrinsically impossible to have a full realistic effectiveness. As a comedy, the show itself will lose its current favor if the contrast between the Kinsey sicks and the GOP candidates turns realistic. It is precisely the abstractness/absurdity that makes the show comedic. Thus, if the show stands on an abstract comparison between the two groups of people, it should not be setting out to change people’s mindset, or to put in Michael’s way, to be realistically “effective”.
        I find it hard to see how the absurdity and “effectiveness” can be reconciled in this musical if it is based on an abstract mirroring in the first place.

  3. ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION was one of the most comedic and talent filled shows we’ve seen this semester. It was a production that took alot of energy and enthusiasm on both the parts of the performers and surprisingly the audience. Some amazing things about the actors had to be their intricate balance, and triple combination of acting, comedy and singing simultaneously in one show.

    The show changes constantly as discussed in the talk back and stays recent and relevant (at least in our case), making the production more than a show, it really feels likes its alive in that it responds to both the audience and times. Although there were some things in the show that made me uncomfortable (not any of the racial things), I have to say I was not at all uncomfortable with the crowd interaction. That was such a cool and suspenseful part of the show, no one knew who could be picked on next.

    Also, one of my first jobs was a stage tech back in high school. The thing I noticed about the show was the constant change in lights throughout, it was very interesting and the person working the lights must have been very busy back stage. The set was also something that was very different from what we have seen in previous shows. The first row of volunteers was an exciting addition, at first I though they were actors, but later we found out they were just helping out.

    Some of the things that made me uncomfortable as mentioned above were just the gestured humor, it was new for me and the eating of cheese puffs out of the underpants was. …Something. The good thing however is that, it was crazy, but not too crazy if you know what I mean.

    Lastly, we briefly spook with Jeff Manabat, the gentlemen who played Trixie, I was actually surprised how good of an actor he was, he was just a normal actor who took on the role, so he was an addition and not part of the initial ‘The Kinsey Sicks.” The rest of the cast also has some very surprising bios; they are lawyers and activists from around the country and its like wow, what a talented and smart group of people. No wonder their sense of humor is so edgy.

  4. Thursday night’s performance of “Electile Dysfunction: The Kinsey Sicks for President” was a tremendous performance unlike any I’ve ever seen. My first thought after the show was that I just watched a hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch (but edgier) for an hour and a half. Going into the performance, I wasn’t turned off by the fact that it was a drag show. I knew that, due to its popularity, that it the Kinsey Sicks’ humor could be gotten by a wide variety of audiences. Therefore, I was excited about seeing a comedy that actually made me laugh. Some of the previous plays we have seen before were comedies, but none made me laugh nearly as much as Electile Dysfunction. First and foremost, the set and the costumes were perfect for the show. It wasn’t until I saw the actors after the show that I realized how detailed the costumes were. The actors all looked completely different in their street clothes! The stage was simple but perfect for staging the atmosphere of a political convention. Consequently, when the actors interacted with the audience and came out to ask questions, it felt real and was not awkward. I felt the biggest weakness of the play was the dialogue in between the songs. “Rachel’s” voice was especially hard to hear when just talking. The dialogue was also peppered with corny jokes that could have been omitted. That being said, there was not much down time in between songs, which helped keep the flow going and the audience entertained. The songs were absolutely hilarious and the raunchiness did not lose the audience. Rather, it made us all laugh, and I felt as if the audience was a part of the play. I was pleasantly surprised by how up to date the lyrics were, and it made them even funnier as every topic they covered was extremely relevant. All in all, Electile Dysfunction was the most fun I’ve had at Theater J so far.

  5. I did not know what to expect from “Electile Dysfunction: The Kinsey Sicks for President,” but the show was amazing and incredibly entertaining. At first I was a little unsure and hesitant about the performance. I thought that I would feel uncomfortable for much of the show, but that was not the case at all. The actors did an excellent job of pushing the envelope, but not going too far. I felt like the beginning of the show warmed the audience up for more in your face scenes that came later. By the time the actors sung “Sheep Fucking Guy” it did not seem as outrageous to me as it most likely would have had it been the first song.

    I really enjoyed the fact that show had so much over the top political satire. It was evident that the Kinsey Sicks stay up-to-date with what is going on politically in the United States. The fact that they used such current references made the show that much more entertaining and relevant. Oftentimes politics can seem very gritty and serious, and it was pleasant to see it taken a little less seriously and have a new and hip twist be put on the politics of the day.

    The way that The Kinsey Sicks blended political satire with social sexual commentary was intriguing to me. For me, the political satire was the focal point of the show, but I also feel like it was meant to be a sort of critique about how society views sex. The songs were catchy and fun, but by discussing things like homosexuality, sex scandals, and the oftentimes Puritanical way sex is thought of in the United States the actors really made the audience think as well. There is definitely a lot more to “Electile Dysfunction” then four guys in drag that can harmonize beautifully and write funny songs.

    • Meg, I agree with you that political satire was the focus of the show, and in fact, did not take the time to distinguish the satire from sexual commentary until reading your post. I think this goes in part with the fact that this was a drag performance-had there not been emphasis on the gender bending, I think I would have felt robbed as an audience member. However, in thinking about the show through a sexual commentary lens and not a drag performance, it rings even more true to the GOP primary for me than it had previously, given Santorum’s comment that Democrats are the party of Woodstock and sexual freedom. Political and sexual commentary are so intertwined these days it can be hard for me to remember that it is possible to comment on one without mentioning the other. When isolating the sexual commentary Electile Dysfunction makes for a much more thought provoking piece of theater, rather than just a fun piece of political satire. Thanks for making the distinction in your post.

    • Meg – I had the same initial hesitant feeling at the beginning of the show. I completely agree with you, that The Kinsey Sicks did a nice job of “warming up” the audience for what was to come. While the jokes and outright liberalness of the show was clear from the beginning of the performance, the level of crude humor appeared to gradually increase throughout the remainder of the show. During the talkback the actors touched on this point by acknowledging that if they come on too strong at the beginning the audience will put up walls that they will have to work to overcome for the remainder of the show. Upon reflecting, I was not surprised that this was a deliberate decision by the group as it would be difficult to overcome appearing too strong at the beginning of a performance. I know that I would of likely put up a wall myself if they show had started with a performance of “Sheep Fucking Guy”.

  6. The most impressive aspect of Electile Dysfunction was the balance between witty, satirical humor and crude, slapstick humor. The witty humor involved decent background knowledge of the current political landscape, especially the ongoing Republican presidential candidate race. I am usually more of a fan of this type of humor that is similar to the humor found on shows like The Colbert Report and John Stuart’s The Daily Show because it craftily pokes fun at certain aspects of politics that normally deserve to have fun poked at (i.e. the relentless Republican presidential candidates’ attacking of each other). However, enduring over an hour straight of such humor may have started to become repetitive. The ridiculous, crude humor was a great reprieve in certain situations. The mere situation of unabashedly calling Rick Santorum a “sheep fucker” was so shocking that it was funny. The writers did a great job of mixing these situations into the script to provide a foil to the witty, intellectual humor

    The other part of the whole experience that was unlike any other show I had previously attended (maybe except for the Blue Man Group in Chicago) was the audience participation. That aspect of the play experience, when viewed holistically, probably draws the audience in the most. Before the play began, the man sitting next to me asked if our seats (about five rows from the front) would be far enough away from the stage to avoid being selected for audience participation. I thought five rows back would have been clearly far enough away, but I was definitely wrong. That man was selected to be one of the Kinsey Sicks’ boyfriend, and Demitri, seated to my right, was brought up to the stage at the end of the performance. The fact that at any point of the play you could be called on to participate in front of the audience added a huge degree of unpredictability to the performance that really drew me in. Nothing was off limits in Theater J last Thursday night, and that really separates Electile Dysfunction from any other performance I have seen.

  7. This performance was superb with its witty jokes, catchy tunes and talented actors! Watching the show I really felt the acts catered to the local humor of Washington DC. Their political humor and remarks were well placed, keeping the audience on their toes at all times. Their humor and how it was presented kept me thinking of my own political ideals, while never putting me in an awkward position, however I could feel some people squirming in their seats during certain political remarks. I felt this was a great way to display a talented show but still hold a strong message.

    Possibly even more interesting for me than the actual show was the talkback with the actors after the performance. Seeing the actors without their drag costumes on, hearing their normal voices, and seeing their individual views of their characters gave me a feel for they got into their personas and what inspirations they pulled from. They talked about how they go about writing each show, how the various locations differ and what they want the audience to feel during each performance. I respect their intellect, humor, creativity and audacious with the performance they have created.

    With the current 2012 election in full swing, “Electile Dysfunction” was charismatic and relevant in their political messages. I found their set to be very respectful, of simple tables and chairs with no gimmicks (aside from the sparkles in their costumes and heavy makeup of course). They relied on their pure talent and ability to connect with the audience to make the show spectacular. Their audience participation also kept viewers on the edge of their seats. By pulling audience members each show becomes unique to their location and a memorable experience. The actors are very talented with their improve skills, which was apparent when they involved audience members in their show.

    Overall I have been convinced, The Kinsey Sicks get my vote!

  8. Thursday night’s showing of “Electile Dysfunction” was my favorite play that we have seen thus far this semester. It was entertaining, witty, and highly surged with political conviction. As a liberal, I happened to agree with mostly, if not everything, that was said in the play. However, throughout the show I kept thinking about the influence the audience must have on a show like that. First, I thought, advertising for such a play must be difficult, as clearly the wrong kind of crowd could cause a disastrous outcome. Also, an uneducated audience who is not up on current political news could miss several of the jokes or even the satire quality to the whole show. Lastly, I would think that the location of the show has a tremendous impact on the reaction they receive, what jokes are understood, and what type of an audience shows up.

    I was impressed by the amount of audience involvement and improv that was incorporated into the show. At first, when audience members were called upon I thought that they had been picked prior to the start of the show and had some prepping as far as what to say and do. However, once one of the students from our class was picked on, I realized that everything they had done was in the moment and had never been formerly rehearsed.

    During the talk-back the actors discussed how they dealt with mistakes that occurred during their show. I found their response refreshing. Since the play uses so much improv, the actors all agreed that when something went wrong, it was nothing to panic over; rather they saw it as an opportunity for something new to happen. Additionally, one of the actors explained that he got excited when something went wrong because he knew that meant that the audience would experience a one-of-a-kind show, completely unique to anyone else’s and that would create a special connection between the audience and the Kinsey Sicks.

    • Kaitlin I enjoyed your comments, especially your insight on the improvisational aspects of the performance. The talk back, although we had to wait awhile was probably the most enjoyable and interesting of the semester. Those four even in a formal talk back situation with the audience could not help but be “off the cuff” funny. These skills were on full display during the “scripted” play as well. I recall a few moments when it was very obvious that they were just running with it, not just with their words but also body language. One particular scene that was quite impressive was toward the beginning of the show when Winne picked that girl out the audience and just had a field day, while trying to convince the others that “she” was not a lesbian.

    • I have to admit this was my favorite play too; not only because I hold similar views, but because of the production of the play. The play was witty, entertaining and engaging. After seeing the play, “Electile Dysfunction”, I have to admit you have made some very valid points on the potential obstacles the Kinsey Sicks could face. Highlighting these obstacles reiterates the importance of knowing your audience. I found the fact they embraced error with such open arms a little shocking, just because you would think that people aim for perfection when performing. In this case mistakes were a good thing. As you have pointed out, one of the actors did find excitement in error because it allowed them to provide each audience with a unique performance. I also found it quite impressive that they incorporated improve in their performance.

  9. Electile Dysfunction. As I am typing the phrase down, the spell check has already suggested a typo error.

    Indeed, when I first heard about the show a few weeks ago, I was so overwhelmed by the title that I misheard the letter “l” to be “r”… On one hand, it reflects the satire of the show, which was perfected by the actors’ tour de force performance. On the other hand, it shows the formalism/mundanity that has parasitized my mind and deprived my imagination.

    To further cover myself with shame, I would admit that I had no idea that it was a drag musical. I thought it as a fancy political satire and comedy after realizing the political element in the title “Electivle Dysfunction”. Hence, the appearance of The Kinsey Sicks simply blew me away.

    Not only they master the drag queen’s swagger, but also they possess outstanding voice as an a capella. The blocking was meticulously done without impeding the actors’ witty and naughty improvisations and audience interactions. Overall, the musical explores a variety of current political issues and attempts to break the multiple moral/political bottom lines in the audience. Even though language used in this performance can set the audience to huge discomfort, the twists and jokes in the form of songs successfully played a comforting role throughout the session.

    Personally, I think “Electile Dysfunction” has all the elements that a good political satire comedy should have. Yet, I must reckon again that a great musical stands out from the good ones because of its lasting impact on the audience. Even though The Kinsey Sicks has done a great job in bringing the audience exhilarating moments and greatly discomforting the audience with the sensitive issues, how long an emotional or intellectual impact it would have on the audience is still doubtful. Personally, I was thrilled, amazed, and exhilarated throughout the show. My blood was still racing, my ears still red, my voice still coarse during the talk-back session. However, the overwhelming comedy and satire threw me to such an emotional peak that I remembered nothing specifically touching/thought-provoking besides the overall flashy image of the Kinsey Sicks and the associated excitements which was draining away.

    Perhaps there were just too much information. Perhaps it didn’t set out to drag the audience into endless days of mental struggles. Perhaps the actors themselves are pursuing after the magical efflorescence on stage instead of the fruitless endeavor like the flapping of a butterfly at the National Zoo, which has nothing to do with the tornado in Japan.

    In any case, The Kinsey Sicks has brought me a night of great relief after days of stressful work, so it definitely deserves my compliment.

    • Rafi,

      I definitely relate to and agree with the second half of your comment, in which you decided that despite all the flash, glitter, and talent, you weren’t left feeling particularly moved or pensive. I left maybe even feeling a bit disoriented, because I’m so used to leaving the plays this semester with my thoughts spinning– this time, I clapped, grinned, and that was all. And this sort of theater isn’t “bad” by any means– hey, it was undeniably entertaining! But I, being perhaps spoiled by the profound nature of some of the other plays we have seen, would love to see the Kinsey Sicks perform in a piece where the depth of the play’s content equals the depth of their talent.

      • haha. Thanks for speaking so honestly Nora. I do agree that a balance must be stroke for between a gratifying show that is immediate but short-lived and one that leaves us pondering or doubting our own beliefs with challenging questions. Or perhaps, it is down to the balance between revenue and effectiveness, or physical gratification versus intellectual/moral reflection. In any case, I am glad that we share the same opinions and I also hope to see more depth in Kinsey Sick’s future performances!

  10. Electile Dysfunction Completes My Life.

    Throughout the semester I have touched on the idea that a play creates a community out of the audience and actors. The theatre, actors, and play itself work to create connection between the audience and the work, making each theatre experience unique and special for the audience. I think a good play should make the audience feel like they are in on a secret of theatrical gold. I also think a good play should help you make more sense of your world; it should enrich your life from more than just an entertainment standpoint. Electile Dysfuntion did all of this and more: it was hilarious, thought provoking and genuinely inclusive and engaging with the audience. I didn’t just watch the play, I experienced it, and I was part of it. The play was particularly close to my heart for two reasons. The first, it reminded me of my childhood. At some point after “The Man Who Knew Too Little” came out, my parents decided they HAD to take my sister and me to the interactive play, “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” in Chicago. I was too young to fully grasp the concept but it was one of those family memories that has a way of creeping into the deepest recesses of your memory and reappearing a decade later when you least expect it. Second, I partook in the adventure of attending CPAC a few weeks ago, and honestly, The Kinsey Sicks should have just booked a slot at CPAC. Spoiler alert: I am liberal. I treated the whole weekend like interactive theatre, and I tell you what, the Kinsey Sick would have blended right in. Those awkward moments when the liberal audience at J Street sat quietly thinking, “If I clap now, will people know I’m playing along or will someone actually think I want to keep the Mexicans out to keep the black people employed?” would have just been met with thunderous applause from CPACers missing the satirical memo. Having been to CPAC and seeing that things the Kinsey Sicks said were things potentially ripped straight from CPAC talking points, made me enjoy the play THAT much more. Bravo ladies, politically astute, entirely sassy, and tastefully daring.

    • Anne, I think you make a really good point in that you experience Electile Dysfunction rather than simply watch it. If there had been no audience interaction, The Kinsey Sicks would have without a doubt still put on a very entertaining show, but something would have been missing. The fact that it really did seem like a political rally made the satire all the more humorous and engaging. Also, I think it’s really funny that you treated CPAC like a comedy show. I’ve often thought while watching The Daily Show or the Colbert Report that it’s a little ridiculous how little they have to work for comedic gold in discussing different political clips.

    • HAHA Annie, I didn’t realize you’d been to CPAC! That must’ve made this play especially hilarious for you, since you’d seen exactly the kind of thing the Kinsey Sicks were parodying.

  11. Walking into the Kinsey Sick’s performance of “Electile Dysfunction” last Thursday I immediately felt like I was at an actual campaign rally. As I slapped my Kinsey Sick’s For President 2012 sticker on my I settled in for an unforgettable performance. The Kinsey Sick’s gave a wonderful performance full of satire and a cappella. The lyrics to the songs were hysterical and completely relevant to the current issues of the GOP primary campaigns. I never expected a drag a cappella quartet to have me laughing at jokes that ranged from how to preserve your virginity via non-traditional sexual acts, to their argument that they can run as an individual candidate because the Kinsey Sick’s LLC is a corporation, and as we all know by now, corporations are people.
    One of the things that impressed me the most about the group was their musical skill. All the arrangements were really tight and the lyrics were always hysterical and witty. Their original songs were great but my favorites were the spoofs off of popular songs, such as “Gonorrhea,” which was set to the tune of “Mamma Mia!” by Abba. Yet in the talkback I realized that such wit and political savvy in the writing should not have been surprising to me. The group is highly-educated and politically active. Ben Schatz, the group’s lead lyricist, said that he reads the news for hours and hours everyday. This dedication keeps the jokes relevant-the cast said they had changed jokes during their short run at Theater J just to make sure everything was still relevant. I think this was the main reason that the performance actually felt like a political rally. Politics is a fast game, and the Kinsey Sick’s make sure to stay up to speed with the competition by constantly rethinking the act and swapping out lines. Having spent last weekend at CPAC, I can attest firsthand that the atmosphere created by the Kinsey Sick’s is of the utmost authenticity. From the amount of audience engagement and interaction to the balloons and music it satirized the spirit of a GOP rally in a fun and fair way. Congratulations Kinsey Sick’s, and good luck with the rest of your campaign!

  12. When I arrived at Theater J to see the Kinsey Sicks Electile Dysfunction, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was supposed to be a humorous political satire done by four men in drag, but I could not imagine how that would work out. I also was curious to see if the four men being in drag was novelty in itself, or if it was plot enhancing. I was pleased to find that the play lived up to the hype, and I found myself cracking up on numerous occasions.

    The Kinsey Sicks excel at providing the Washingtonian audience with timely, punchy dialogue and songs, poking fun at the Republican Party and politics in general. From the start of the play, I was curious how they would justify four women running together to be president. Their “corporations are people” rationale was beyond hilarious and set a good tone for the remainder of the show.

    I particularly enjoyed their use of improvisation and audience involvement to keep the show lively and unique. Each time one of the cast members went out into the audience, nobody knew what to expect. From claiming a random man was a secret husband to dragging a Notre Dame student on stage to be Rick Santorum, the Kinsey Sicks knew how to keep the audience on their edge of their seat and laughing the entire time.

    Personally, I found the political humor to be way funnier than the more crude jokes and actions (such as one of the Kinsey Sicks pulling Cheetos out of his underwear). Not that I minded the occasional inappropriate song and dance number such as their ode to Rick Santorum and their song Love Child, but I felt the political nature of those works made them more relevant to the audience and a change from the typical dreary talk of politics. Once I found out that the Kinsey Sicks was an established group, known for their outrageous and crude performances, not their political satire, I understood the balance they decided upon. (That also helped clear up the lack of plot relevance for them being in drag). Overall, it was a hysterical performance that kept me engaged and laughing throughout the whole thing.

  13. thank you all for such interesting and thought-provoking comments. You may be interested to know that we just performed tonight in Hays, Kansas, at Ft Hays College. Where the hell is Hays Kansas, you may ask. I certainly did. And yet, the audience totally defied our stereotyped expectations. They got 90% of the political jokes (some more than the DC audiences), and they were thrilled by the sexual stuff, which in my view IS political, because we aim to challenge people’s shame and judgment and hyper-vigilance about what is and is not considered sexually appropriate. This was NOT a gathering of liberals, it was a packed house of people of all stripes, the majority being moderate to conservative. And yet they loved the show! DId we make them think? I don’t know, but I suspect/hope so. There will be some class discussions tomorrow that I’m waiting to hear about.

    Anyway, thanks for being such a lovely audience, and for serving up two of your own as our victims! Keep in touch with us. Friend us on facebook!

  14. When John Spelman asked the audience if they knew what a prostate did or even where it is located, I was not one of the few to raise her hand. I had heard the word, usually accompanied by “cancer,” many times throughout my life; in fact, a family member had died of prostate cancer a few years ago. But to me, the prostate was just some body part that I didn’t have performing some function that did not concern me. However, John Spelman made it clear that the prostate affects, in his words, “anyone who has or knows someone with a penis.” And so I paid attention.

    “The Prostate Dialogues” was not about his battle with cancer; the play used his illness as a springboard to focus on the fragility of life. He battled a disease that could have killed him had it not been discovered sooner. He and his daughter, Anna, could have gotten killed by bulls they encountered in Spain. His wife had a near-death experience in a car accident. Spelman weaves in throughout the play the message that, although we think ourselves to be invincible, we are not; we are merely a conglomeration of skin, bones, muscle, and, in some cases, prostates.

    Usually I have a hard time paying attention during lengthy lectures, but Spelman’s use of seemingly unrelated anecdotes kept me interested. At one point, I found myself wondering why I was not checking the time every five minutes as I usually do during class or a speech. Spelman’s “The Prostate Dialogues” combined the art of storytelling, a good theme and an interesting subject to create a true work of art. By the end of the 72 minutes, I knew what a prostate was; I even started to care about it. More importantly, I was aware of my own morality and cared about it, as well, an indication of how well Spelman did his job.

    • I agree with the way Jenna described the “The Prostate Dialogues” as a piece on the fragility of life itself rather than a performance that focused on Jon’s personal battle with his prostate cancer diagnosis. During the talk back it seemed as though Jon was unsure exactly what the future direction of the piece is. As a female college student I found myself able to relate to the piece because Jon focused on the fragility of life by including stories of his daughter and wife. If Jon decides to sculpt the piece into a more personal account of his diagnosis with prostate cancer I doubt I would be able to relate to the performance nearly as much. At the same time, if this is the direction Jon decides to move with his piece I am not sure I would be a member of the audience he would be looking to reach.

    • I agree with the way Jenna described the “The Prostate Dialogues” as a
      piece on the fragility of life itself rather than a performance that
      focused on Jon’s personal battle with his prostate cancer diagnosis. During the talk back it seemed as though Jon was unsure exactly what the future direction of the piece is. As a female college student I found myself able to relate to the piece because Jon focused on the fragility of life by including stories of his daughter and wife. If Jon decides to sculpt the piece into a more personal account of his diagnosis with prostate cancer I doubt I would be able to relate to the performance nearly as much. At the same time, if this is the direction Jon decides to move with his piece I am not sure I would be a member of the audience he would be looking to reach.

  15. The Kinsey Six, what a show they were in “Electile Dysfunction”. Laugh out loud entertainment throughout although at times I’ll admit they made me a little bit squeamish but that’s good sometimes I feel. Throw out the rules of the FCC our puritan heritage, social conformity and just let loose a little bit. The Kinsey six most certainly did just that. Say whatever you want about the content of the show but the talent of this group is very impressive. The songs they sung whether originals or parodies were catchy and in tune, they really were brilliantly harmonious.
    Out of all the shows our class has seen either at Theatre J or elsewhere this one was by far the most interactive. We were not an audience of a play but more accurately a political rally for the Kinsey Six’s bid for the GOP nomination. The cast was very involved with the audience often jumping off stage to walk through the aisles to look for participants that would ask questions and engage in a conversation or worse depending on your perspective, join them on stage (heck of a job Dmitri). The cast kept us on our toes you could never fully relax because the show was so unpredictable, I really enjoyed this aspect.
    My personal political views align much more closely with the Republican than the Democratic Party. Having said that I really enjoy political satire, I am an avid fan of Stephen Colbert and I think it is healthy to once in awhile have a laugh at the expense of the current state of political affairs. However, I will admit I could help but be a bit annoyed during a few moments of the show. Specifically, when the discourse was about typical GOP stereotypes, for example the GOP’s views on education and that the Republican Party only seeks to serve the elite and very rich. Having said that this did not detract from my enjoyment of the show, it was a nice outlet to unwind a little and share some laughs.

  16. As I left my room to attend Electile Dysfunction my friend told me the Kinsey Sicks were “hilarious” and assured me that I would thoroughly enjoy the show. She was correct. Electile Dysfunction was hilarious.
    As someone with a short attention span, I appreciated the audience participation that was part of the performance. I felt as though I was attending a campaign rally and was constantly reminding myself that I was in a theater. The continuous involvement of the audience was well executed and I do not think the performance would have been the same without it.

    The saturation of the performance with relevant political news also kept me thoroughly engaged. I am still baffled by the amount of work that must go into the performances to keep them updated as the news is constantly changing. I admire the way humor was used to speak about important issues, such as immigration, that people often have a difficult time speaking about. During the talkback it was asked if the actors thought they ever overstep their boundaries on ‘sensitive’ subjects. One actor said that no, in fact, he did not feel bad because it was not him saying it, but it was his character. I found this to be a bit confusing, however, because earlier in the talkback the Kinsey Sicks made it clear that they are proud of who they are.

    While Electile Dysfunction was my favorite performances thus far, I found it odd that when reflecting back on the show I had a difficult time pinpointing even one part, aside from the final song, that stood out in my mind. I quickly attributed this to the fact that the Kinsey Sicks performed a number of songs, each one jammed packed with jokes and current events, that eventually they all started blending together.

  17. When i walked out of “Electile Dysfunction” all i was thinking was, “Man, Dimitri is the luckiest kid in our class”. Not so much for getting a lap dance from a middle aged drag queen, but more for the fact that Dimitri experienced a piece of what it meant to be a part of something as radical as The Kinsey Sicks. They are doing something totally unique at the crossroads of theater, comedy and politics. I could only watch the show in envy of the imagination it took to intertwine the controversial political news of our day with horribly obscene jokes and end up with something that people enjoy.

    So, the Kinsey Sicks were definitely entertaining, but do their performances actually have an impact on the political discussion? Its a difficult question to think about because i’m not totally sure if they even want for their performances to be taken that seriously. Stephen Colbert, for instance, has always maintained that his act is exactly that, an act. In a similar way, the actor who played “Trampolina” said he would never say such controversial things in real life. I think that point is obvious, however the question still remains because many people view these performances as political commentary. My question i guess becomes, where do we draw the line between comedy and veiled statements about politics? I think the Kinsey Sicks in “Electile Dysfunction” were primarily concerned with laughs and entertainment, which were produced plentifully during their performance.

    Another note, i think i enjoyed this talkback the most of any talkback we’ve had so far this semester. It is obvious that the actors in the Kinsey Sicks are true comedians that can contort and twist any small comment into a hilarious joke, a skill that requires a lot of intelligence and confidence. I’d be really interested to see how they would handle themselves in a political discussion outside of the roles they play in the theater. There are definitely some people who use humor to ridicule a certain viewpoint without offering their own viewpoint in return. I would like to think the Kinsey Sicks are not those kind of people, and after the talkback i certainly felt that way.

  18. While the Michigan in Washington theater class has been an eye-opening, entertaining course from the beginning, nothing quite compares to what I saw last Thursday when our group attended Electile Dysfunction. I’ve been fortunate enough to have an internship on Capitol Hill in a Senate office, and while the internship has been a wonderful experience, political topics can become annoying and draining after a long day of responding to angry irrational constituents. Theater shows on Thursday nights have been a nice relief while normally avoiding recent political discussions. This play was relaxing in a different way in that it took every major relevant political topic and exaggerated it to the point of ridiculous hilarity. It gave me an opportunity to laugh at the situations I have experienced as they compared to the topics discussed in Electile Dysfunction. What I also found to be a source of humor that many others may not have seen were the scary similarities in statements the Kinsey Sicks made versus statements I have heard actual citizens say. As a person who thoroughly enjoys good political humor, this show had me rolling out of my seat laughing.

    While I have enjoyed almost every play I’ve seen in my life, very few performances make me say “the world needs to see this!” Honestly, The Kinsey Sicks created a show that immediately made me wonder if this could ever get broadcasted to the world. Not only was the performance raunchy, scandalous, and sassy, it was politically brilliant. They effectively showed the absurdity of political extremes by taking them and magnifying the extremes to a greater degree. While the show was obviously political satire against extreme republican ideals (in the same way Stephen Colbert’s show works), I still feel that anyone could benefit from seeing this show. In my eyes, the show doesn’t target republicanism. In fact, the same message against extremism could be shown with a satire against extreme liberal ideals.

    I feel like I am rambling a bit too much at this point, but overall, I just want to emphasize how enjoyable this show was. To anyone who has the opportunity to see a production by The Kinsey Sicks, I recommend, nay, INSIST that you go. There isn’t quite an experience like seeing “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet.”

  19. Even though I knew that “The Electile Dysfunction” was popular, I didn’t know what to expect when I came to the theater. The show turned out to be quite entertaining and witty. The actors were amazing. I loved their songs, their voices, and the fact that they were so engaged in performing their characters that after the show it took them awhile to get back to their “normal” state.

    I liked that the show was more interactive than other plays we’ve seen this semester. Unlike other plays, where the audience is only watching actors’ performance, “The Electile Dysfunction” introduced an opportunity for active participation of audience members. It also made the show more entertaining as the actors would come up with witty jokes and improvisation during such interaction. I remember during the after-play discussion, the actors mentioned an incident when one of the actors’ microphone was making weird sounds and how the actors had to continue performing while at the same time trying to figure out whose microphone it was. In other words, audience interaction and improvisation definitely make the show stand out among others. However, sometimes I felt uncomfortable with the audience interaction and some of their jokes. As one of the actors mentioned, in real life he would have never have said some of the things he said on the stage.

    As some of my classmates mentioned, I also had a hard time remembering specific details about the show later on other than great voices, audience’s reactions, crude humor, and satirical tone of the show. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the show, especially the ending when one of our classmates was brought to the stage! It was also very interesting to know that the actors have very rich bios, including activist work.

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