Magazine article The New Yorker

Ladies and Germs

Magazine article The New Yorker

Ladies and Germs

Article excerpt


--Andrew Marantz

The New York City Council convenes on the second floor of City Hall, in an august chamber with a frescoed ceiling. On a recent Saturday, the chamber was open, but empty. "Over here!" a voice called from an adjacent room. Seated around a table were nine current and former City Hall reporters. Average age: nearly eligible for a reduced-fare MetroCard. Average outfit: rumpled shirt, jeans, maybe a sweater vest. They were the writers of the Inner Circle Show, a political-satire revue that has been staged nearly every year since 1923, and is notable for luring the mayors of the City of New York onstage, sometimes in drag. Shelly Strickler, the show's director, said, "You got any good Cuomo jokes?"

"No joke is too bad for us," Bob Liff, formerly with Newsday, said. "Every year, we try to get in some stupid line about the town of Coxsackie."

The head writer, Larry Sutton--ex-News, now at OK!--read from the opening of Act II. "Lord Cuomo," he said, "the Mayor of Sherwood Forest is approaching from the left! He still wants us to approve his repugnant Pre-K tax plan!"

Liff looked up. "That's gonna be Chirlane Forest instead of Sherwood, right?"

"Yes, thanks," Sutton said, making a note. He continued reading, now as Cuomo: "The day I approve a new tax in an election year is the day Sandra Lee's kitchen gets four stars from Michelin."

Andrew Siff, a broadcaster with the local NBC affiliate, asked, "Should we do something else there? Maybe about Alec Baldwin?"

"Baldwin as his new head of anger management?" Sutton said.

"We did something like that a few years ago," Strickler said. Next joke: "I'm opposed to fracking," Sutton read. "Why? It gives me gas."

In 1923, the Times reported that the Inner Circle was "composed exclusively of the men covering politics on the city newspapers." The group now includes women, broadcasters, and bloggers. Cigars are no longer allowed at rehearsals, but the tenor of the show remains intact: hoary slapstick, wigs, parody songs in the mode of Allan Sherman. The show, which takes place this year on March 22nd at the Hilton, is attended by the city's political brass; all proceeds go to local charities. After an intermission, the Mayor always per-forms a "rebuttal," often with the help of Broadway ringers. …

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