“I think there has been a growth in Trump fatigue,” says Tony Stinkmetal, who admits that he himself shares it — which is why it’s surprising that he has created a show called “SlashR” that’s been promoted as an “outrageous, sexy, and bloody political satire that massacres Trump and the current era of American politics.” It is one of at least three Trump-related satires currently on New York stages with brief or sporadic runs.
In “SlashR,” which ends at the Gene Frankel Theater September 15, Stinkmetal found a way to reconcile his own fatigue with Trump in a show that’s a mash-up of political satire and a spoof of 1970s slasher movies. “The thing to do was to leave him out of it. His name is never mentioned in the play. It is a story of a cop hunting a serial killer whose first murder happens to be on November 9, 2016. The police detective uncovers a big web of secrets; there’s a connection with the worldwide rise of fascism and the stupidity and violence that gave us the election results.”
The script reflects the author’s pox-on-both-their-houses worldview, with a script that features a character named Reeta disclosing to Detective Anne Oakley a conspiracy to program the populace to accept the status quo, including slogans like Love Trumps Hate: “She’s only the love candidate,” Reeta says, referring (again not by name) to Hillary, “when she’s standing next to the most hateful Cheese Doodle in history.”
In what may be a tangible sign of Trump fatigue, “Me The People,” a musical parody of The Trump White House that ran for five months Off-Broadway in 2017, albeit to mixed reviews, has returned in a new edition (“Fire and Fury Edition”) for only a handful of performances at Laurie Beechman Theater; the remaining dates are September 18, October 16, October 30, and November 6 (Election Day.) The show adds satirical lyrics to well-known songs, eg. Hotel Mar-a-Lago (Hotel California), Twitter Bird(Rockin’ Robin), Freedom of the Press (The Sounds of Silence).
I posed a few questions to the creative team, which is led by book writer and lyricist Nancy Holson: “Aren’t people getting their (over)dose of Trump in the news; why create something for the stage? Who will be the audience?”
A spokesman for the show replied: “Well, this production is actually partnering with candidates running in the midterm election for special fundraiser performances and also get out the vote initiatives with political organizations.”
In their Kickstarter campaign, producer Amy Holson-Schwartz elaborated: “Getting Me The People back on its feet is our way to participate in the conversation. We’re resisting the best way theatre people know how, through song, movement, and comedy!” One of their aims, she wrote back in March, was “to provide the entertainment at events supporting anti-Trump candidates in the 2018 electoral cycle at cost. In addition, we’re looking forward to volunteering our time to perform at protest rallies and marches. This is as much about making our voices heard as it is about producing a show.” (Have they done this? Are there any more protest rallies and marches planned?)
The 1st Annual Trump Family Special, which is running Thursdays at 9:30 p.m., from September 13th thru December 6th at the Triad Theatre, features Gina Gershon as Melania Trump. In defense of the show, its creator Danny Salles says: “Comedy has always been necessary to keep politics in perspective – ever since the first jester sat at the feet of the first king. And in these times when opinions are so polarized and angry, comedy lightens the conversation to allow for common ground to be found. And that’s when change happens.”
The show, based on the “ridiculous” premise that the family is performing a musical special for the new Trump TV network, uses original music, rather than just putting spoof lyrics on hit songs, and it focuses on the family’s lesser known members, Salles said, taking liberties to create personalities for these characters that the originals may or may not possess. “The result is that the comedy is lighter, and we’re able to toss in political barbs without feeling so pointed as to be tiresome.”
There is one more step the show is taking to sidestep Trump fatigue — similar to Tony Stinkmetal’s show. “Since one plot point of the show is whether or not Trump will arrive to his own special, audiences aren’t faced with an entire evening of yet another orange-faced Trump impersonator.”