2012-08-25

2012 Edmonton Village of the Fringed Fringe Review: The First Canadian President of the United States

Even successful political comedies are exercises in careful meticulous planning. Too much politics and too little humour can be deadly. And this is what sinks The First Canadian President of the United States. Well that and horribly sloppy writing, a bizarre senseless scenario, and writer Jem Rolls' shitty shitty politics. Okay, let's try to handle this one a single issue at a time.

There wasn't much in the line of humour in this play. It's okay, it doesn't have to be a light-hearted comedy romp. But it thought there was humour, and that's its biggest flaw. Apparently it was hoped that just name dropping people would work. She went to Preston Manning College! Hilarious, why would a University educated man who was one of the primary movers of a massive political movement that is still making international waves a quarter-century later ever get a college named after him? The left may hate Sarah Palin (for being smarter than they are, typically), but even for this crowd simply saying "President Palin" isn't that funny.

The biggest reason, of course, is that the Americans actually elected President Monkey, and may yet re-elect him. You literally can't think of a less capable name for the Presidency. Corky from Life Goes On maybe?

There was only a couple of jokes in the entire show that were worth a chuckle: when Kimberley White-White (yes, that's supposed to be her name, which was supposed to be another joke) talked about her continued success leading the Conservative Party she noted that "every election the lib-left added another party", which is hilarious of course since it's true. The crowd was silent. Maybe they're still mourning the loss of the Alberta Party? Too soon, Jem Rolls, too soon! The other joke, more of a gag, is that her husband apparently had a hobby of homemade chutney, which she got so sick of that it gave her a weird compulsion. It was worth a chuckle or too, and then got massacred to death.

The writing was fairly disjointed and unimaginative, with an apocalyptic scenario where the population of the entire world has received brain implants, and the Chinese politburo is secretly sending a software upgrade to allow another person control over the personality of everybody with them. Like one-for-one? All at once? Meh, doesn't really say. Regardless, this causes President Kimmy's trusted adviser to schedule a public appearance at the aforementioned Preston Manning College to address their graduating class, and then use the newly implemented personality override to force President White-White to deliver a speech he's written talking about her rise to power and supposedly warning the world about what is to come. Priscilla Yakielashek does a decent enough job with the physical aspects of the plot, the gyrations and awkward motions as another person takes control of her body, but most of her lines are not so much delivered as much as dropped in front of your door with a sticky note from UPS asking you to sign for it online. At various points in the show the audience wasn't entirely sure with what they were meaning to see, and whether or not we were supposed to be sympathetic or outraged or what to the plight of the protagonist.

This whole nightmare scenario is supposed to be because President White-White sold Canada out to the Chinese (by "letting corporations go unregulated" which sounds exactly what Communist Beijing is all gung-ho for), but the way this seemed to happen was with the banking system being taken over by China because they had all of our money which wasn't so much us 'selling out' to them as much as being just plain old-fashioned out-competed due to our politicians ineptitude. Meanwhile the "brain chips" seemed to be planet-wide. Did the "mass murderers Canada let police their own borders with our assistance" let their citizenry get implanted with ChiCom chips too? If they already have a U.S. workforce just making their citizens cheap trinkets, and all the money on earth running through their banks, what do they even need the chips for? Is it just for the lolz?

This segues nicely into the final problem with the play: Jem Roll's laughable political stance. It makes you yearn for the good old days when Tory's were attacked for exaggerated transgressions of the past rather than completely fraudulent ones of the future. The big example of foolishness has to come when White-White talked about the Democrats and their "silly issues and policies and plans and thinking". Did Jem Rolls, having realized that Paul Ryan was the Romney VP candidate and President Monkey is going into an election devoid of all ideas and plans and ways out of the jam that he has put America into, thought "ah fuck it" and just left it in? The Republicans are full of plans: math, ideas, concerns, solutions. What do the Democrats have? Sandra Fluke's five-mile-wide vagina? Likewise the whole "selling us out to the Chinese" bit. Sorry, which President sold nuclear secrets to China in return for illegal campaign contributions again? Which President, who looks suspiciously like a monkey, took illegal campaign contributions from China online? Which party in the United States is looking to reduce the U.S. debt which is largely held by China and which could cause the Chinese banks to force the U.S. into "double bankruptcy" as the play suggests? How many more Americans than Chinamen are helped out by American businesses getting tax cuts? See what I mean here?

This all ends up just building a sloppy foundation with far-left bends on all the support beams which ends up sending the house of card which is The First Canadian President of the United States crashing down to earth. The play thinks its scoring political points when its only showing the author's own ignorance of the facts on the ground. It thinks its being funny by lazily spouting half-jokes that were barely funny to only the most hardcore leftist before the United States electorate in 2008 showed them what a real intellectual lightweight in the highest office looks like. Finally, it wants to be telling a story about a nightmare scenario going wrong in which North America is poor, everybody has lost their individual rights, and a cadre of elites tell the people what they must do at all times.

That isn't a nighmare scenario: that's what voting for the Rub n' Tug Jack Laytons and the President Monkeys of the world will bring to us. The best way the prevent a scenario like that from happening is to elect a Canadian Prime Minister who really would slash healthcare spending, reduce the size and scope of government, and bring western public debt to a meaningful level.

Final Word:Lazy, offensive, and without redeeming merit unless you sit in the front row and get to see up Yakielashek's skirt.