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'Avenue Q' Can't Get Over George Bush


What do you do when you lose a punchline? While Will Ferrell and Robin Williams try to squeeze every last joke out of an administration that left office over a month ago, Late Night hosts struggle to find something funny about the new guy. (In other news, Rich Little is still doing an impression of Richard Nixon.)

Two weeks ago, I did a story about how the Broadway show “Avenue Q” held a contest to find a lyric as funny as “George Bush is only for now.” Calls to the theater assured me that keeping the lyric Presidential wasn’t even an option. Your Mother in Law, This Show, Prop. 8 and Recession were the lines the producers were hoping to pay off.

My friend Jane Shaffmaster, who alerted me to the contest, sent this link today. The contest is now officially over. According to the article, the show’s producers “have dismissed the contest’s winning lyrics except for Prop 8 [is only for now]–which will still be used during the tour’s California dates.”

Well that makes sense. Outside of California and the gay community, most of America has no clue what Prop 8 is. The theatrical community is far more familiar with the proposition than the rest of America, and was likely surprised when the lyric didn’t get the response they sought. I’m sure the show was disrupted more than once when Lorraine from Kansas (who just dumped a hundred bucks to see a puppet show) leaned over to a friend and whispered, “What’s a ‘prop-eight?'”

So what did they decide to use? The winning lyric is: “George Bush WAS only for now.”

Brilliant. I guess like “South Pacific” and “Bye-Bye Birdie,” some vintage musical theater is better when presented in the time frame that it was originally written. “Avenue Q” will now be forever remembered as a Bush-era production, although the impact has noticeably waned. “We now know that although George Bush’s presidency was only for now,” show creator, Robert Lopez noted, “the comic potential of ‘George Bush’ seems like it may last forever.”

And for some of us, it seems like it already has.

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