Gross National Product, a political satire troupe out of Washington, has been making overtures north lately. The 10-year-old company played three test Sundays here last July, and now has settled in for what it hopes will be a regular gig at Slapstix Comedy Club.
Despite the show's title, "BushCapades, An Administration on Thin Ice," GNP is performing at least as much improvisation and general-interest material as political humor.
Perhaps GNP felt that Baltimoreans aren't as politically astute as our neighbors in the nation's capital. Whatever the reason, it's clear that politics is GNP's metier; when the company veers from it, the show drifts toward mediocrity.
Several of the political sketches are first rate. GNP founder John Simmons does a credible George Bush impersonation, complete with the requisite hand gestures and a vocabulary dependent on that all-purpose noun, "thing." In other words, he's got the hand-gesture thing and the noun thing down pat.
Mr. Simmons is especially agile delivering a rendition of Bush's videotaped address to the Iraqi people, occasionally mouthing the words so we can hear the simultaneous -- and wildly distorted -- translation.
There's also a hilarious bit in which Tim Rankin mimics the well-known anti-drug commercial. He comes out with an egg in one hand and a frying pan containing a picture of Washington Mayor Marion Barry in the other. "OK, last time. This is D. C. Mayor Barry. This is drugs," he proclaims, smashing the egg into the pan.
The eight GNP performers are versatile, but they're best when they're topical. An improv sketch with four performers portraying a character named Mr. Know-It-All simply falls flat.
Whatever the members of GNP may think of this town's political acumen, they should make no mistake about one thing -- Baltimoreans love to laugh at Washington. So flaunt that political thing, GNP, and maybe Baltimore will pledge allegiance.
When: Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Open-ended.
Where: Slapstix Comedy Club, 34 Market Place.