Thursday, May 31, 2018

Roy Zimmerman brings honest laughter to this absurd world

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2018 at 1:00 AM

click to enlarge Roy Zimmerman: ReZist, June 1, 7:30 p.m., All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, - DC ANDERSON
  • DC Anderson
  • Roy Zimmerman: ReZist, June 1, 7:30 p.m., All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church,
Comedian and singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman says that satire is “the most hopeful form of expression.” By laughing at something, we acknowledge that nothing is so powerful it can’t be poked, prodded and — ultimately — resisted.

Zimmerman’s progressive-minded satirical folk music, which he writes with his wife Melanie Harby and performs in venues all over the country, covers topics from the easy targets (“T-Rump,” which praises our current president with the liberal use of butt-related puns) to the tougher subjects (“Thoughts and Prayers,” about politicians’ lukewarm and ineffective responses to mass shootings.)

“These songs aren’t just funny,” Zimmerman says. “It’s not just potshots, jokes about people’s appearance or their voices or those things. What Melanie and I try to imbue each song with is some sense of analysis, some sense of history, some sense of the context, and maybe even a suggestion for how things might go better.”
Hope and honest laughter are commodities in short supply these days, at least for the “blue dot” audiences Zimmerman typically performs for. These are “the most progressive people in some of the least progressive places in the country.” A phrase Colorado Springs audiences may relate to. Needless to say, he’s visited the Springs many times, and wrote “Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual” about one of our fair city’s conservative claims to fame, the evangelical preacher caught with a male prostitute in 2006. Haggard’s response to the song: “It’s really bad — I mean, it’s poorly done — but it’s funny.”

The job of the satirist isn’t easy in this day and age, as Zimmerman well knows. “The pace of absurdity has picked up so much,” he says, “that by the time you start writing your Ronny Jackson song, you have to write a [Rudy] Giuliani song.” But it’s precisely because the current state of the world is so absurd that people gravitate toward Zimmerman’s music. We can all use a laugh in any political climate, but especially, Zimmerman says, in this one.

In a culture that increasingly values diversity of voice, Zimmerman doesn’t forget that he is a white, middle-class man addressing issues of the resistance. He says acknowledging that privilege on a personal level is his first step toward treating a subject with sensitivity. He asks his audience, from his place of privilege, if they share his consternation, confusion and sadness at issues affecting the marginalized. “That, I think, is the most honest way for me to get into that subject matter.”

And honesty, Zimmerman asserts, is far more the goal of satire than laughter (though it helps to laugh along, too).

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