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Larry Litt

"Front Page Follies", A Political Satire Cabaret


"Front Page Follies"
Written and performed by Peter Ekstrom and Michael Quinn

Once a month at Cornelia Street Cafe's Downstairs Cabaret
For exact dates and times check www.FrontPageFollies.com or call the Cornelia Street Cafe: 212 989 9319
Reviewed by Larry Litt

It's a long road to show business success in New York. Glibly speaking it's common street smarts for new acts that it dearly helps to have a dedicated cult following with at least one member of the cult being a writer for the next to god New York Times. Therefore it seems somewhat contradictory and self defeating, but alas consistent with the calling, that Michael Quinn and Peter Ekstrom are driving off road vehicles fueled with wit and barb from Greenwich Village into that exalted and publicly exposed Times Square night.

For their's is a road paved with super animated upright piano music from Ekstrom and brilliant parodic lyrics from Quinn under the title, "Front Page Follies". Being self appointed, harmonizing unreconstructed political satirists they must, driven to display uneven-handed governmental criticism by the ancient muses of satire, mock their own needed support structure, the very media that creates and hypes cool and at the same time reports on our politicians, often overlooking their flaws and follies until it's too late. It's a dangerous game, baiting politicians and Big Media without the backing of an all powerful mentor, but obviously it must be done.

Our current political situation demands that those who can, and are called, must serve in the political trenches donning the satiric uniform. Then it becomes our task as the politically aware audience to create that dedicated cult following thereby putting the media on notice that there's terrifically funny writing and music being made and played by Ekstrom and Quinn.

Because they care about news media, Big Media in particular, and what it contributes to our perceptions of politics and social culture. Their's is an implicit belief that our opinions, as citizen recipients, are made by Big Media, by reading and watching and listening to news sources and the actions and conversations that surround communities who pay attention.

It's obvious they love this interplay of news and the common folk, they themselves are part of it and they've taken it upon themselves to criticize it, hoping to make it, and consequently America, better--a better place to live and a better partner in the larger international world.

So who are they to take this role upon their musically parodic heads? They're New Yorkers, that's who and Americans who are still in love with their city and country.

On the other hand what kind of Protestant god gives New York financial, media and fashion wizards without oil wells? Then that same iconoclastic, indifferent deity goes ahead and compensates Texas with enough oil and other energy sources to afford support for retrograde, post alcoholic politicians. Texas! How did the Texans take over? Are consumer SUV's a military industrial conspiracy? Are we all merely subjects of Governor Bush and his family's cadre of high school wrestling buddies? Governor Bush? Naturally, his charmed life is one of the running themes of the night when you're in "Front Page Follies" company.

Ekstrom and Quinn are the inheritors of Will Rogers famous quip, "All the humor I need I get from the papers." It's true for them and obviously for their audience who laughed until they went out into the streets demanding regime change in our own beloved country. Ah, yes, regime change is just the beginning.

No branch of our government or division of opinion is left out of their mediated purview. From the Supreme Court to the Defense Dept., to conservative legislators who support are committed to anti abortion amendments, pro NRA, pro hetero Boy Scouts, all the way down the aisle to liberal legislators who are so left there's nothing left of them, Ekstrom and Quinn remind us that political satire is a very American art form that needs thoughtful writing to keep their politically aware audience awake and laughing. If you pay attention to politics from any viewpoint you'll either be offended or consoled in their presence. I was consoled, I was reinforced, renewed and motivated in my political beliefs. Only this specific and dangerous art form can do that. Remember that the first people the Nazis eliminated were the political cabaret artists who thrived during the Weimar period.

By the way, never compare "Front Page Follies" to the Capitol Steps cabaret from Washington DC. These two men are dyed in the Hudson River New Yorkers with roots here from birth. Their's is the New York world view, New York music, the much touted New York pace. They are what we New Yorkers want New Yorkers to be, without official tourist office approval, without Disney and Warner Bros. marketing people dumbing them down for family and tour group attendance.

Package warning--Few, if any, bright eyed, bushy tailed, bible vacation school kids will understand "Front Page Follies" satire. As surely as a boy can earn a merit badge for prayer they intend to offend the Christian Right who believes that Boy Scouts are the upright citizens of the future, who mustn't tolerate pinko pansies in their midsts for fear of tainting the militaristic and quasi religious stridency of their prejudiced organization. There is no merit badge for satire.

Our momentous times are incisively addressed in often hysterical songs and patter by the "Front Page Follies" duo once a month at the Cornelia Street Cafe's Downstairs Cabaret. Can't wait? Being New Yorkers they are very modern, very high tech. They are offering their first CD, a compilation of their show's political parodies, through their website--FrontPageFollies.com. Check that same website for exact dates and times of the next show or call the Cornelia Street Cafe.


If you have any comments or want to notify me about performances or shows, you can e-mail me at humornet@aol.com.

Copyright © 2003 Larry Litt


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