Beyond Bush bashing

Laughing liberally at Jimmy Tingle’s
By MATT ASHARE  |  June 20, 2006

Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theatre is designed like some sort of leftist bunker — a Batcave-like hideaway deep within the bowels of a building on Elm Street that’s catty-corner from Redbones in Davis Square. Once I found my way through the labyrinth of hallways leading to a performance space that by my calculation may actually be located somewhere underneath Cambridge, preparations for a little Bush bashing were well under way. Drawing on comedians from NYC and Boston, the political-comedy extravaganza Laughing Liberally had landed at Tingle’s for a two-week stay that includes four more shows this weekend. Of course, except for Dennis Miller, who was lured over to the dark side a decade ago and hasn’t been funny since, comedians are a liberal lot. Yeah, there’s that blue-collar-bordering-redneck strain — the Jeff Foxworthys of the world. But even they’re not above taking shots at the commander-in-chief.

So it was a given that the six stand-ups — Benari Pulton, Katie Halper, Tim McIntyre, Dean Obeidallah, Baratunde Thurston, and Julie Goldman — on the 7:30 pm bill last Saturday night would, along with Tingle himself, be preaching to the converted. What amazed me was the audience: I was sitting at a table with what looked to be college-age kids, but there were a lot of older folks in the sold-out crowd. Maybe we really were in Cambridge. Tingle’s brand of graciously down-to-earth blue-collar Boston comedy got the evening off to pleasant start for a diverse crew. The diminutive Pulton has been a soldier in Iraq; Obeidallah is half Arab; Thurston is a local poetry-slamming African-American; Goldman is a butch dike who like all dikes (her words, not mine) plays campfire songs on acoustic guitar. The result was a little like tuning into Air America for a particularly good segment. In fact, the show’s premise made the most obvious sort of Bush jokes irrelevant. Instead, each stand-up dealt with his or her own take on lefty politics, and everyone I saw left with a smile on his or her face.

LAUGHING LIBERALLY | June 22-23, 7:30 pm; June 24, 7:30 + 10 pm | Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theatre, 255 Elm St, Somerville | $22-$30 | 866.811.4111

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