Luv Doc Recommends: Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins

Zach Theatre's Whisenhunt Stage, Friday, August 19, 2011

Luv Doc Recommends: Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins

Yes, it was Molly Ivins who invented the nickname "Gov. Goodhair" for Rick Perry. That single instance of wickedly brilliant wordplay is much more of a literary legacy than most political commentators can claim in a lifetime. In fact, it could be argued that the nickname alone is enough to warrant a one-woman theatrical homage, but Ivins' trove of bons mots and "isms" is exceedingly full. It's true Ivins possessed a rapier wit, but it also has to be acknowledged that Texas and Texas politicians never failed to provide bushel after bushel of low-hanging fruit: Dolph "Bread Puddin'" Briscoe, Bill "Burr Butt" Clements, Clayton "Dick Stompin'" Williams, George W. "Shrub" Bush, and of course Gov. Goodhair himself – not to mention the constantly changing clown car of the Texas Legislature, whose madcap hijinks kept Ivins' typewriter humming. National politics weren't off her radar either. Ronald Reagan was described as, "so dumb that if you put his brains in a bee, it would fly backwards." She once said that "calling George Bush [Sr.] shallow is like calling a dwarf short." Oh, snap! Then there was Shrub, the infamous post turtle (Google it) who arguably cemented Ivins' status as a sound bite pundit. Why not? Ivins had a knack for summing up politicians and policy with incisive, accessible, humorous one-liners. On gun control: "I'm not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife." On Texas: "It's a low-tax, low-service state – so shoot us." On moral leadership: "You want moral leadership? Try the clergy. It's their job." On Bill Clinton: "I still believe in hope – mostly because there's no such place as Fingers Crossed, Arkansas." Even though she took plenty of shots at her own party, Ivins was universally adored by liberals and had the grudging respect of many conservatives. Regardless of party affiliation, it's hard not to appreciate someone who calls 'em like she sees 'em. Unless, of course, you're Michael Dukakis, of whom Ivins once said: "This man has got no Elvis. He needs a charisma transplant." Whether you were down with the Duk or not, it's hard to argue with that assessment. Say what you will about George Senior, at least he had the wisdom to not let himself be filmed while power-walking with a pair of Heavyhands aerobic weights. What were you thinking, Duk? Not even a spin around the General Dynamics parking lot in an M1 tank could butch up that image. Imagine if President Obama was filmed during his presidential campaign doing his morning workout with a Shake Weights? Perhaps the most important thing to remember about Ivins is that she was a liberal progressive with balls – metaphorically, at least – though it could be argued that she had enough swagger and chutzpah to warrant an actual package check. It's too bad Ivins is no longer with us. Her antagonistic defense of progressive, populist politics is sorely missed these days, and it's a good bet she would have secretly relished the thought of skewering "The Coiffure," aka "The Ken Doll," all the way to Election Day. Don't let the gloom overtake you. If you find yourself missing Molly Ivins more and more these days, the best thing to do is to head down to Zach Theatre for Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, a one-woman show starring Barbara Chisholm, a local fixture of stages and screens who has been voted Austin's favorite actress in The Austin Chronicle's "Best of Austin" Readers Poll. If you don't see this show … Gov. Goodhair wins. Then again, he probably will even if you don't.

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