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Bully Pulpit

PIT’s J.D. Durkin gives novelty governor candidate a platform in Colbert-inspired show

By Kyle Riveral / Jester correspondent

On Feb. 24, the Peoples Improv Theater proved to be teeming with a particular fervor, most certainly on account of Jimmy McMillan, last fall’s charismatic candidate for New York governor. McMillan, of the self-founded “Rent Is Too Damn High” party, was the guest for J.D. Durkin’s show, “Stephen Colbert: Hire Me”, which largely featured Durkin’s political musings, punctuated with a slideshow backdrop corresponding to his satirical newscasting.

As is the custom of such formats, the ensuing journalism was uttered with strong levity, only to be quickly followed by ironic contradictory headlines that kept popping up behind Durkin, a la Colbert’s “Word” segments. The contrast made for an amusingly macabre gravity. Running the gamut, headlines rose and fell in unison with a barrage of Durkin’s verbiage. Christina Aguilera, according to one assertion, should be “deported back to Staten Island" (queue childishly hysterical NYC subway map with red arrows on lack of transportation in said island). He went on to exemplify how the statistical layout of affairs in Egypt seems to be executed by first graders, offering images of rudimentary pie charts and squiggles on a chalk board. Yes, a chalk board.

And apparently, Corey Feldman, in his dire state of unemployment, is pictured alongside a McRib sandwich, the coveted gift for his Valentine’s Day sweetheart. Coloring Sarah Palin’s brilliance, Durkin, after showing a clip of her skirting an issue, commented how the further people progress politically, the more they “cut down on coherent sentences.” Durkin’s finale, in its simplicity, aroused all with 2011 presidential candidate quotes. “I have no great burning desire to run, but I will put my name in.” And the kicker: “If nominated, I won’t run. If elected, I won’t serve. How about that?”

Durkin introduced his guest, Jimmy McMillan, with a clip from his attention-getting appearance in the governor debate. “As a karate expert, I won’t talk about anyone up here.” He came out sporting something between a beard and goatee, black gloves, and a dominating air. Continually referring to Durkin as his son, with their opposite skin color embellishing the joke, he proceeded to effectively take hold of the show. In an abrupt survey of the room he observed how this country has all kinds of people, pointing out certain audience members, including a “white man with nappy hair.”

Amazed at his ostensible success after being listed at number 5 among New York Magazine’s favorites, McMillan reminisced, dead-pan, about a fan running up to him. “I’m in Brooklyn; you don’t run up to my car.” With practically no input from Durkin, McMillan ran on and on from anecdote to anecdote, here and there diverging onto quick side stories. In his somewhat earlier days, it turns out, he made the decision to stop stripping because of gray hair. And it somehow came as no surprise to learn that he was the pioneer of the phrase “verbal judo,” which, he explained, can be likened to discourse associated with road rage -- verbal judo. At one point, on one of his tangents, McMillan thoughts seemed to run away from him as he progressed further down a vehement path of social observation. His voice tapered and he cut himself off, suddenly concluding, “I don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Behind his jovial effrontery, McMillan exuded extensive passion and intimacy. Being a Vietnam veteran, and suffering amnesia as a result thereof, he had to build his life anew. Having had deformed children, he spoke of the importance of today’s youth and being lifted of their financial burden, and strongly advocated humor. It’s a shame, McMillan says, that in our nation’s policies, a child can be sent to war but be refused alcohol. “Smart enough to kill, too dumb to drink.”



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