President Bush has left the stage, but on Broadway Will Ferrell as Bush soldiers on. In the annals of Bush hatred, Patrick Healy’s New York Times story on Ferrell’s new Broadway show (“You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W. Bush”) deserves at least a footnote. From Ben Brantley’s review review of the show, incidentally, we learn that in Ferrell’s Bush-speak, the show takes its place in the “anals” of Bush hatred. Hilarious.
In yesterday’s Times Healy provided an amused sidebar on the show:
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So far six audience members have stormed out midperformance of the Broadway show “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush,” the comedian Will Ferrell’s lampooning of the 43rd president, according to those keeping count at the Cort Theater. But they haven’t been leaving after a particular Ferrell quip.
They’ve been standing up, instead, after the projection of a supersize photo on the backdrop of the stage. A photo of a penis. Specifically, as Mr. Ferrell (who plays President Bush) leads the audience to believe, the president’s penis. Except that’s not quite right.
“It’s an anonymous but age-appropriate public domain Internet penis,” said Adam McKay, the play’s director. “We went on the Web and got a penis.”
“It’s not the president’s penis, as far as I know, and Will is 41, so we weren’t going to use his,” Mr. McKay added. “What I do know is that the photo gets one of the great shrieks of delight from the audience, and it’s also the one moment that is followed by people walking out.”
Healy digs deep to find the source of such comic genius:
The idea of using the image of a nonerect penis originated one day in rehearsals, Mr. McKay said. The script, by Mr. Ferrell, draws partly on Mr. Bush’s past statements, and the two men were remarking on the former president’s comment that he had enjoyed being “a free man” before he entered the White House.
“We were joking that now that he was out of office, he could do whatever he wants,” Mr. McKay said, “and so I said, ‘Let’s have him show his own penis,’ and Ferrell was like, ‘O.K.’ ”
“He is a frat boy, a big party guy, and you could imagine him doing this,” Mr. McKay added, describing Mr. Bush, who is 63. “Though I want to make clear I’m not blaming the president for our very bad taste.”
Healy notes the show’s popularity:
No surprise, the play has been a major draw for New York liberals. The production, which largely features Mr. Ferrell doing the Bush character he made famous on “Saturday Night Live” on NBC, has been playing to near capacity at the Cort Theater, which has more than 1,000 seats, since it began previews on Inauguration Day. It is scheduled to run through March 15, and will be presented live on HBO next month.
Healy adds a bizarre note dispelling possible legal concerns: “Mr. McKay said he did not have legal concerns about defaming Mr. Bush with the image, or about using someone’s penis in an unauthorized way.” At least Healy did not salute Ferrell’s courage in satirizing Bush on Broadway.
Healy sought out Bush spokesman (and Minneapolis native) Robert Saliterman for comment on Friday about the use of the photo. Unfortunately, he declined to comment. I wish he would have commented that this is one indignity we are happy to believe that President Obama will not have to endure.