WASHINGTON, D.C.—As twilight sets on the Obama administration and the dawn seeks new blood in the Beltway, loosely defined satirists Mark Russell and Garrison Keillor have promised to unleash a torrent of political comedy for the presidential race next year. They have spent their downtime, roughly the period encompassed by their waking hours, polishing some cutting edge material they think might be too hot for PBS.
“Let’s say the letters will stand for ‘Pretty Brassy Sport’ next year,” said Russell, as he feverishly scratched new lyrics to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” using a quill pen and old time piano, with Republican Marco Rubio firmly in mind. “And in my case, I guess it would be ‘Nimble Polemical Ribbing,’” crooned Keillor, with an elbow to the arm for emphasis. “I’ve had some long meetings with my powder milk biscuits sponsor about where the line’s going to be. My only worry is letting Fred Newman go blue.”
Simply seeing the two men in the same room together is anomaly enough to make any camera jam, or at least fall asleep. But they opened up about their years in comedy—or, rather, not being taken very seriously—and the toll it’s taken on their personal lives.
“I’ve seen more suicides than a stock ticker in 1929,” said Russell. “A lot of the notes say I even caused them, but enough about Paul Anka.” Told that Anka was still alive and will be touring this fall, Russell broke a sweat. “Jumping Jehosephat!” he exclaimed, “who did I push?”
Keillor was more ruminative as he discussed his past,stroking the tail of his coonskin cap in a way that makes you hope he doesn’t have a crawlspace at home. “A few hours punching buttons on the computer machine will reveal that I have a lot of ex-wives. A lot of public radio pledge money goes to alimony if I’m honest. Some of them can’t take the lifestyle. Most of them just don’t understand it. A few needed green cards.”
But both men agree the tears behind the laughter have kept their political skewers sharp and pointed. And the American public will be breathless with mirth in the race to November.
“Chris Christie. He’s the big guy, right?“ confirmed Russell. "He’s gonna feel like William Howard Taft by the time I’m done. You’ve heard of bathroom humor? Well what about bathtub humor?” he said, referencing an urban legend about the 27th president that people over 40 have by now forgotten they once heard about.
“Don’t forget Huckabee,” chimed in Keillor. “I mean, just the name. We can’t just let that go. Not for a long time. Insect jokes, huckleberry jokes, that alone is like a whole hour on the Prairie Home Companion.”
“Of course the real elephant in the room is Hillary,”Russell proffered.
“And the jolt to the jawbone is that she’s a Democrat,” said Keillor. “The elephant is the GOP mascot. The Democrats have a donkey.”
“And speaking of Bill–Hee-haw! Hee-haw!”
By 2:00 the humorists were riffing out parodies like “Jindal Bells,” “Into Each Life Some Rand Must Paul,” and trying to recall the tune to “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too,” for a ditty about Carly Fiorina and a camping trip. By 2:15 they had eaten some pudding and passed out.
Might the two titans perform together in 2016? A spokesman for Congress stated that while the legislature is always looking for reasons to cut funding for public broadcasting, the Eighth Amendment bars anything cruel and unusual.