Political comedy takes stage at USCAF


ASPEN, Colo. -- Political comedy was in the spotlight at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Saturday morning as industry and other folks turned out for "The Gaggle," an on-stage opinion talk show created and produced by former festival director Craig Minassian that is being workshopped for potential TV show development.

Comedian Marc Maron and Ana Marie Cox, the Washington editor for Time.com, co-hosted the show with The Washington Post's Shalaigh Murray, Republican political strategist Mike Murphy and "Daily Show" correspondent John Oliver as guests.

Topics ranged from the candidates and likely candidates in the 2008 presidential election, the early start of the campaign and U.K. vs. U.S. politics.

Maron quipped early on that when politicians go on talk and other entertainment shows, "it really cheapens the host of those shows."

Murphy argued that any Democratic challenger will have a hard time against tough campaigner Hilary Clinton. "You'll need food testers," he said, earnings gasps and some laughs from the audience.

He added that David Geffen, who recently spoke out in support of Barack Obama, may have to be careful to not be "killed in a freak Pilates accident."

Maron countered: "I am disappointed in Geffen. I thought he and Katzenberg and Spielberg would put money into a new technology to animate Gore."

He also suggested that the political process should be changed "American Idol"-style to make it more appealing to U.S. voters.

"Candidates should be forced to sing a Stevie Wonder song," Maron said, adding they should also be asked to "eat bulls balls" a la "Fear Factor."

One segment of the show called "postings" included a video about political bloggers followed by a group discussion of their role in the current political process. Another segment called "The Lid" saw Maron opine on why the future is all about China and the Chinese. And a final segment, "News from Next Week," had all panelists make predictions about upcoming political developments.

Talking about Obama, Murray said: "I predict next week we'll find out he's also related to Trent Lott."

Several industry observers said they liked the show's concept and personalities and are looking forward to seeing what happens to it.

"We're testing it as a TV show and will take what we did here and cut it into a pilot
presention," said Minassian, who has a first-look deal with HBO.

Asked about the inspiration for the show, he said: "We are trying to do something new and include all these new opinion makers in politics. And comedy is a key part of it all."

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