My first anniversary present (paper) to Sarah was tickets to The Book of Mormon, and we saw it last night in New York. (my present was tickets to midget car racing, which was awesome). I’ve been a fan of South Park since before it existed, when I first saw the videotape of “The Spirit of Christmas” that was commissioned as a video Christmas card. I had some friends in the Disney and animation community who’d got their hands on it, and is still one of the funniest Christmas parodies ever made. The show has had its ups and downs, but the movies Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made are mostly terrific. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut can still make me crack up. Team America: World Police is one of the few satires of the post-9/11 landscape. And The Book of Mormon is perhaps the most popular musical to say that in general, religion is just crazy shit someone makes up to distract people in horrible situations.
Now, the Mormons get poked fun at in this, but I don’t think their religion is singled out in particular, except to make the audience think why they are laughing at some of the off-the-wall beliefs of strict Mormons when their own beliefs are only slightly less ‘out there.’ Mormons are hardly the only target. American consumerism, symbolized by Orlando Florida, gets a heavy ribbing. The characters are sympathetic, but there is a lot of brutally cynical humor about the dire situation in some areas of rural Africa, such as the AIDS epidemic, violent warlords, and female circumcision. The performers are fantastic, and the humor works on many levels. I don’t know if many Mormons are going to see it, but I don’t find it malicious. In the end, the missionaries are flawed because they are human and entitled Americans, not because of their religion.
All the Broadway shows I’ve seen in order, from childhood are… Cats, Show Boat, Avenue Q, Spring Awakening, Spamalot!, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Hair, Young Frankenstein, Hairspray, and You’re Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush. Not counting Will Ferrell- which was a one-man show and not a musical- I’d say Book of Mormon is hands down, the funniest, with Spamalot second. The best all around? I really liked the revival of Hair, and think the Hairspray musical was damn good (and better than the movie musical).
Tickets are still crazy expensive, but this one will be running for a long time. I hope they make an insane movie out of it. It is incredibly filthy, absurd, hilarious, endearing, and daring.
And speaking of Mormons, to read a free story of mine about two Mormons who ring the doorbell of the wrong man, check out We’re All Guys Here, at [PANK] Magazine.