Ahead of today’s swearing in of our 45th president, our favorite comedy duo re-introduced us to our 29th in a fun, layered, really smart show they called “Roaring in Our Twenties”.
The hapless Warren G. Harding, often ranked as one of America’s worst presidents, ran for office under the slogan,”Return to Normalcy” and served from 1921 until his death in 1923.
Pure & Weary used his short, scandal-plagued term as the basis for their romp through the 20s (and their 20s), which included sketches, dances, and lots of laughs.
Underlying all the comedy, though, was a serious theme.
“Normalcy sounds nice, though we all have a different definition of it,” Katherine said when I asked her about her and her comedy partner Leah’s choices for the show.”But “return” suggests going backwards and not taking into account the many who would not profit from a ‘return’ to a different time. Making our country ‘great’ sounds positive. But adding the ‘again’ is the same thing as ‘return.’ Nostalgia is dangerous for the historically disenfranchised groups.”
In addition to skewering President Harding who, in their defense, once said, “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here,” Leah and Katherine poked a little fun at themselves.
“Excuse me,” Katherine’s flapper character says to the bartender. “This life isn’t quite what I ordered. Could I have another, please?”
We enjoyed a seductive song and dance number between Al Capone and Eliot Ness called “Untouchable” and sung to the tune of Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” and a clever, well-choreographed nod to silent movies.
The show was funny (though, occasionally, the language was not suitable for the younger folk or, possibly, the younger folks’ grandma). I’m really looking forward to seeing it when it goes up at Second City in February.
The duo intentionally made the choice to have their hosts be flappers. Leah even bobbed her hair.
“We initially wrote it because the definition of flapper is ‘a fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behavior,'” Katherine said. “We felt the definition of comedienne’s is similar. Comedy is still a male driven industry. Comedienne’s receive harsher critiques on their material specifically because of the historical definitions of a conventional woman.”
So, the show is a little bit cerebral, part satire, part slapstick, but it’s definitely fun and we hope to see you all there in February.