"Democracy Burlesque" Review -"Fear and Loathing in 2016" is a Political Satire About Both Candidates

Democracy Burlesque, (DB Comedy), the brainchild of producer/political activist/professor Joseph Fedorko has been performing together for 10 years, raising money for it’s causes celebres, entertaining audiences, currently on Tuesday night’s at Mary’s Attic, 5400 N. Clark, Andersonville, and just plain having a good time. They claim to produce variety shows “for the politically active”, but it’s probably more accurate to say “for the politically aware”.

Dionne Addai, Becca Browne, Tyshaun Lang

This reviewer saw the last 2 shows, “DB Does Balls”, and “Fear and Loathing in 2016”, the latter of which will be staged again next Tuesday, November 1st only if they’re not competing with the Cubs and will culminate in a bang-up show on Election Night, tracking the returns. My favorite part of “Balls”, a group of skits about politics and sports was featured standup artist Sonia Denis, a truly outstanding black comedian.  My favorite skit from  “Fear and Loathing” was the tuneful and scathingly smart song and dance spoofing Mike Pence.

While I had a lot of laughs with my friends on both occasions, and encourage everybody to get down to this cozy venue above a beloved neighborhood double restaurant and bar to check out the current show, it’s not my purpose to review the particular shows, but to address the type of performances these are, how vital and fluid they are, and how important they are to the nature of “community” in this and every neighborhood in Chicago.

Bailey Neill, Patrick J. Reilly, Shaun Rosten, Adam L. Barnett

The shows are fresh, original, audience-participatory, and unpretentious. They are packed with political commentary- left wing of course- jokes, skits, original music and biting satire. There are solo musicians in between acts, and outrageous stand-up comedians. There is nothing pretentious and yet nothing self-righteous. The most striking aspect of the shows is how much fun both the audience and the people on-stage are having! Even the corniest broadest humor is unabashedly presented and gleefully accepted and cheered on! The nights I was there, very few people even bothered with the inexpensive and abundant alcohol on offer-people were there for the show.

It’s a nice venue with a big stage, adequate acoustics, clever light and music management courtesy of music producer Throop McClerg with the gleeful Fedorko himself managing the board. There are almost no props or stage sets with the exception of some signage, graphics, power point displays and very minimalist costumes. They operate with a tight core of talent, often wearing different hats, as part of their “Producers Cabal”, “Writers of Wrongs”, “Actors of Evil” and directors. Musical guests, standup comedians and causes celebre differ.

Patrick J. Reilly


Participating behind the scenes or as talent in one or both shows were hosts Becca Browne and Donny Rodriguez and Dionne Addai, Adam L. Barnett, Nathan Bell, Regina Buccolla, David Brennan Sandy Bykowski, Jessica Cutts, Ramona Kywe, Tyshaun Lang, Bethanie Louise, Sylvia Mann, Bailey Neill,  Dan Polito , Patrick J. Reilly, Shaun Rosten and Viet Vy.

Community theatre is not the same as amateur theatre. It is performance created relative to a particular community- in other words, made by, with and/or for a group. Such performance art contributes to the social value of a community. It develops real skills, a sense of identity and broadens the artistic worldview of its participants, both on and off the stage. At its most involved  and inspired levels, it can be used as a tool for social development; it can promote concepts such as diversity, access, inclusion, gender equality, human rights, and, yes, democracy. DB Comedy is such an organization: it helps to stimulate social change and foster critical thinking through audience participation.

Ramona Kyle, Jessika Cutts, Sandy Bykowski

DB Comedy is wholly original and produces three World Premiere sketch comedy shows each year at Mary’s Attic; they are also available for appearances city-wide and online. Their stated mission is “to create a gathering place for those trying to change the world a little bit while raising awareness, supplies and money for worthy nonprofit grassroots organizations”.

The Cast of "Fear and Lathing 2016"

Go to the DBComedy website

for info and to buy tickets.

 All photos courtesy of Thomas Banks

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