Mark Russell Footnote: 12/30/2003

...he's very similar to Mark Russell, except that he's funny.

This dig against Mark Russell has been here as long as this webpage has existed, and I thought that it really needed a little elaboration. It's always seemed to me that most pages about Mark Russell really don't go far enough. The following page, on the other hand, goes too far. The fact is, that singing political satirist Mark Russell is not merely unfunny, he's PAINFULLY unfunny. The man is practically Tom Lehrer's Evil Twin.

Today I went to the Homepage of "Mark Russell - Laughter of Politics - Master of Political Satire" (and that statement was the funniest thing on his entire page, incidentally) and pulled down these gems of wisdom, that were conveniently located right next to a picture of old Mark holding up one index finger as though he were making some incredibly interesting and relevant point (he wasn't, by the way). Here they are, followed by my commentary...

MARK RUSSELL SPEAKS! (You have been warned!)
  • MARK:  Old Man 2003 will be disappearing into the sunset - soon to be followed by Carol Moseley Braun, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich. With their clear and consistent statements, they just didn't fit in with the other candidates. Laaaaame!

    Ya get it?? They couldn't succeed in politics... (wait for it)... BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO GOOD!! Yuck, yuck, yuck... Uh... Because politics is so... bad, don't you see? Get it? Get it? Ahhhhh, who asked ya?

    (SIDE NOTE:  Note also the use of the phrase "Old Man 2003". Get it? It's not only funny, it's cute and folksy. Kind of like All I Need To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, except even better! Someday Mark should write his autobiography: All I Know About Comedy, I Learned in Nursery School.)

  • MARK:  Yes, the three are still in the race, but financially their hard money is softer than their soft money. STIL-ted! Okay, granted, they aren't actually out of the race after all, but doggone it, that first joke was just too good not to use! Don't you think? Huh? Right?...

    (SIDE NOTE:  Granted that this joke doesn't quite make sense, but it sounds like it does, and that oughta be good enough)

  • MARK:  In the debates (147 viewers nationwide) Moseley Braun was the schoolteacher who couldn't stop the unruly boys from shooting spitballs. Unfortunately, a teacher never gets voted most likely to succeed. Cli-ched! Ya get it? No? Okay, look. She used to be a teacher, right? So we act... like she still is!! Bwa ha ha ha ha! Get it? Get it?

    (SIDE NOTE:  I've long wondered where Mark gets his material. My best guess is that Reader's Digest forwards all the Life in These United States submissions they get that aren't funny enough for them to use.

  • MARK:  If they were casting for a card-shark in a Vegas casino, Sharpton gets the part. If you think the campaign has been dull so far - wait until you see it without the Rev. Al. BO-ring!! Ya get it?? Oh, yes you do get it! Look. Al Sharpton is an outrageous character, right? That means... (wait for it again)...that he's not boring!!

         (SIDE NOTE:  Sigh, brilliant observation. Now, if only Mark Russell knew anything about not being boring. Maybe he could learn by rooming with Al on the campaign trail. I can hear the paperboy now:   "Extra! Extra! Al Sharpton Commits Suicide!".
         I also love that phrase, "If you think the campaign has been dull so far...", implying that that's what Mark himself thinks. Wow! You KNOW you're boring if you're boring Mark Russell!)

  • MARK:  Kucinich is the only candidate who in actual fact voted against the war. Dean, Clark and Kerry are "coulda," "woulda," "shoulda." SHOOT ME NOW!! Ya get it? Okay, now look. "Coulda woulda shoulda" is a funny phrase! Dean, Clark, and Kerry, right? They didn't, but they... coulda, woulda, shoulda!... Dean coulda, Clark woulda, and Kerry shoulda!... Or is it Dean shoulda, Clark coulda, and... Look, it doesn't matter, anyway. The point is that Mark knows this phrase is funny because he's heard funny people say it before, and THEY got laughs. Robin Williams said it once, and brought the house down! C'mon, this phrase is automatically funny! Kind of like e pluribus unum. Say it any time, any place. It can't miss!

  • Could Tom Lehrer bomb this badly on his very worst day? I think not. In fact, if Tom were not still alive, I would be tempted to adapt his Mozart comment (i.e. When Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 2 years), to the current situation. Something like "When Tom Lehrer was this unfunny, he had been dead for 2 years.

    The most fun you could have with Mark Russell would be if you had access to the history of his website and could make a list of how many times these jokes have been recycled. The most fun I ever have had with Mark Russell was on an early Simpson's episode in which the Simpsons are in Washington attending a Mark Russell concert. Mark was singing a flat little song that went "The Trade Gap Shuffle, we're in a heap of trouble, doing the Trade Gap Shuffle, yes sir!" Bart groaned "We've HEARD this song already," and Marge corrected "No dear, that was the Budget Gap, this is the Trade Gap."

    Looking at Mark's website, I see that you can buy Mark Russell CD's. I love this quote from his ordering page:  "These recordings are time capsules. My guess is that if you play them for your children or grandchildren years from now, they will say, 'gee, things haven't changed much, have they?'" You know, I adore this statement!* What a perfectly charming way to say "These albums are going to be horribly dated before you even get them out of the package." But I think it's more likely that the kids will say "Gee, so when was humor invented, Dad?" "I think it was a couple of years after this, son." I'm morbidly, I mean genuinely tempted to actually buy some now. Think of the possibilities. You know how some parents try to impress upon their kids what a hard life they had by telling them that when they were young they had to walk 20 miles to school? Imagine being able to tell your kid "When I was young, we had to listen to THIS." If my parents had told me that, I'd have done my homework without complaining.

    I shudder to think of the lame little song the Markmeister might put together to zing me, if he ever noticed this page, and deigned to take notice of it (fortunately, neither possibility is very likely. He'd zing me all right, but not in the way he intended). In the meantime, I'm taking up a collection for a Mark Russell Retirement Party. Granted, he hasn't announced his retirement, but we can always hope.

    In closing, I really should say that I do not direct these remarks against the vast army of Mark Russell listeners, but merely against that peculiar hard core... who actually think he's funny. No, I don't mean to be unkind here. I'm sure he's a nice guy and all, and it's not that I don't feel sorry for a guy born without a sense of humor. It's just that I feel even more sorry for the rest of us. Do you feel sorry for him? Well, just be glad I didn't reprint any of his songs. The Budget Gap Shuffle, we're in a heap o' trouble... Ooooh, Murgatroid! The Day the Music Died, indeed.

    * Though it's not clear if the statement is intended to refer to the American Political Scene or to Mark Russell's jokes.
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