TOPICS > Politics

Brave New Workshop takes satirical look at hot-button issues

May 10, 2014 at 11:44 AM EDT

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): I love you so much, Bloopeekins. Oh, I am over the moon that we are finally married. Thank you, Minnesota. Thank you, Minnesota.

LAUREN ANDERSON: Humor’s such a great tool to get things out.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): It is so nice to see another loving couple finally getting married. Oh, no. No, we’re not getting married. We’re getting divorced.

LAUREN ANDERSON: Once you’re laughing with people you have a shared experience with them, and people that have shared experiences relax a little bit. They calm down. They feel closer to each other. And when you feel closer and more connected you’re able to discus things in a way that you wouldn’t if you felt isolated.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. No, I disagree. Becker and I, we love each other. And we want to start our life together. Trust fall. Got ya!

LAUREN ANDERSON: At the Brave New Workshop, we want you laughing in the theatre and then discussing, or arguing even, on the way home.

CALEB MCEWAN: I think we’re unique in that we have comedy, but it’s comedy that has a point. There’s always a reason why we’re doing a sketch here. And that’s been the tradition since 1958.

DUDLEY RIGGS: My first performance was as an infant in the grand parade of the Russell Brothers Circus. My father and my mother were for a number of years aerialists in the circus. So I grew up being a circus flier and then ran away from the circus to join a family and ended up in Minnesota.

I think one of the reasons that I settled here was it was obvious there was an available, intelligent, underserved audience for comedy and for satire. The Brave New Workshop had the beauty of being able to do contemporary political social satire on a regular basis.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): And I can’t stop this Prius anymore. I forgotten what I started stopping for.

DUDLEY RIGGS: I’m really quite proud of the 500 or so actors who got their first paycheck from me. They learned their craft, they went off, and they’re doing good work elsewhere. I’m proud of those people.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): : Michael (inaudible) was once the head of FEMA. But lost his job as (inaudible) Hurricane Katrina.

LAUREN ANDERSON: One of my favorite shows I ever did here was called Saturday Night FEMA. And that was actually a really powerful show to be a part of. It was that really cool dance between trying to make it funny and having a serious thing to say.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): You mean to tell me you’re just going to let someone tell you what to think without bothering to find out the truth. Duh, we’re Americans.

LAUREN ANDERSON: When you can make somebody laugh about something that might be painful or hard to talk about, I think that’s a real powerful tool.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): Obama Mia! Here we go again. I am starting to resist you.

DUDLEY RIGGS: I believe that there are no subjects that we have not at one time or another tackled.

BRAVE NEW WORKSHOP (performance): Simmons, secure the West Wing. Make sure the First Lady’s okay. Yes, sir.

DUDLEY RIGGS: And at least for a time being the only voice in town talking about a particular sore point. When Minneapolis was having its third race riot, we were already doing our summer series called the Race Riot Revue.

JOHN SWEENEY: One of the things that Dudley has instilled in us is that our shows should try to be ahead of the curve. Dudley can tell stories about how he would always go and get the first early edition of the paper the night before and be more educated than your audience.

Well now, people are watching their phones to see what’s happening on CNN during the show. So this ability to kind of literally stay ahead of the crowd is tougher now because information is so available, but we still embrace the kind of, can we be ahead of the audience in the point of view of the sketch.