Bushwhacker

Stand-up satirist misplaces his pointed political punchlines

The artwork for Brian Dykstra's new one-man rant fest features several pachydermal rear ends obscuring our lone, embattled comic. The image works like the setup for a good GOP joke: Unfortunately, we spend much of the evening waiting for a punchline.

With the crowd primed for Bushwhacking, Dykstra inexplicably devotes the first third of his act to tired Hollywood satire that flatlines faster than a Kerry family hamster. His first decent riff—Paxil vs. pot—shows up an alarming 35 minutes into the show. The audience, finally warmed up and ready to make some noise, is then subjected to a moment of career crisis. "[T]he truth of wanting to do something like this, a one-man show," Dykstra confesses, is "when you move into the shit you want to say, that's where you could blow the whole deal." Really? Uh, isn't that the shit we all came to hear?

Like John Kerry, Dykstra leaves the impression that he's not deploying his rhetorical arsenal at full strength. Now and again he demonstrates a mind-to-motormouth coordination that turns clichés on their ears. But too much of the act feels like conventional weaponry.

The best evidence that Dykstra possesses a small cache of WMDs arrives when he announces that, during the beer-and-bathroom break, he'll be reading something he found on the Internet. It turns out to be the Declaration of Independence, and, astonishingly, most of Thomas Jefferson's complaints against his ruling George read like a tidy summary of W.'s policies ("depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury . . . transporting large Armies to compleat works of death, desolation, and tyranny"). It's a deft sleight-of-history, as was Kerry's convention speech quote from Lincoln. You just wish their best material wasn't written by other people.

 
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