Last night Firecracker took me to see Will Ferrell’s Broadway show, You’re Welcome America: A Final Night with George W. Bush. I was a little concerned, because Will is hit or miss with me- I love a lot of what he does, like Stranger Than Fiction and Anchorman, but some recent stuff like Blades of Glory and Talladega Nights seemed like he was spinning his wheels. However, my concerns were completely unjustified- because while doing his Bush impression is going back to the well, the show was one of the funniest things I’ve seen on Broadway and showcases some of Ferrell’s best writing in a long, long time.
One man shows are hard to pull off, but Ferrell does it. It’s just him and a quiet Secret Service Agent (played by his brother Patrick Ferrell) up there. From the moment he’s lowered onto stage by helicopter and starts addressing us like it’s a speech engagement, he’s got our attention and gets laughs from the obvious to the ridiculous. He embodies the public persona of the former President, the guy we could have a beer with- if he didn’t drink O’Doul’s- and manages to tread plenty of new ground. When he mimicked W.’s father yelling “How come you’re the only one of us who has a Texas accent!?” he got to the core of it- that the Bush we knew was a meticulously crafted figurehead. This is the comedy side of W. (full review)- Ferrell manages to make a Presidency that feels long gone in the wake of “Tiger Woods guy” a refreshing tragicomedy.
They keep things lively- there’s a dream sequence with Condi, lots of crowd interaction including “lemme give ya a nickname,” a Dick Cheney introduction, and the Secret Service guy has some very entertaining interludes while Ferrell takes a break to change costumes from cowboy, to President, to Mission Accomplished flight suit. The show will be appearing on HBO on Saturday, March 14th if you can’t catch it live. It’s playing at the Cort Theater for another week, and it’s a cozy venue where even the cheap seats afford a decent view. Just try to avoid the highest rows stage center, as the spotlight will halo your head, and make the lighting guy call you a “fucking dick.”