Shows like "An Inconvenient Talk Show" are the black sheep of the New York comedy scene, which is known for its unapologetic and groundbreaking stand-up, topical sketches, and its weird but enduring love affair with improv. Having seen nothing like this before, I had my reservations. Initially, the seriousness of the subject matter worried me; would it give the audience a good laugh, or leave us under a dark cloud of despair? However, when I plopped myself at a table close to the Caveat stage and saw it set with a simple desk, a modest stack of Al Gore books, a globe, and - best of all - an inflatable dolphin suspended from the ceiling, I knew we were in for a treat.
Al Gore (portrayed by Rollie Williams) with Fargo the Dolphin (voiced by Andrew Coalson)photo credit: Carly Hoogendyk
Once a month, writer and host Rollie Williams (Funny Or Die, Inverse) takes the stage in full "Al Gore" regalia, in an effort to spread the message of global warming (and this time in particular, the message of the importance of voting). His comedic hosting is the spoonful of sugar that makes this medicine go down; the success of Williams' portrayal comes from his gentle, well-meaning parody of Gore, one that teases his eccentricities while honoring his passion for the planet's future well-being. That being said, this version of the ex-vice president has his over-the-top moments. At the start of the show, Williams' Gore experiences an intense inner monologue complete with Year 2000 election PTSD, which hooks the audience from the get-go. Yet in spite of the many silly sides of Gore that Williams exposed us to that night, they only serve as a vessel, carrying the driving purpose of the show: educating the audience about the seriousness of climate change, and the impact that simply voting conscientiously can have on our environment in the long run.
Tim Barnes and Al Gore share a nice momentphoto credit: Carly Hoogendyk
One of the highlights involved Tim Barnes (Comedy Central), self-proclaimed "sphere expert," and Al Gore explaining the significance (and likelihood) of the Carbon Tax. It's not a topic one would typically find funny at face value, but discussed with the enthusiasm and candor of two buds who just really don't want to see the world burn up, I felt like a kid watching Bill Nye and being tricked into paying attention to science all over again.
Chris Burns and Kelley Quinn talk about (lack of) sexphoto credit: Carly Hoogendyk
Chris Burns (Difficult People) and Kelley Quinn (Viceland) brought their own brand of goofiness, first as an Oil Tycoon and his wife, and later as an abstinence-only couple (because babies are bad for the environment, of course). While the latter bit felt like a stretch in terms of keeping with the election theme, the oil tycoons eerily mirrored the ultra-right-wing, logic-lacking dialogue that we hear so much of today; as they stated with conviction, oil spills kill sharks before they can kill us, and who can argue with logic like that?
Arielle Duhaime-Rossphoto credit: Carly Hoogendyk
The final guest, climate change journalist Arielle Duhaime-Ross (VICE) brought us back to reality, elaborating on the immediate seriousness of global warming, but not without a glimmer of hope. After all, in spite of the wackiness of this show, the point has always been to educate and to call people to action, and while Duhaime-Ross has seen some pretty discouraging things in her travels, she provided the necessary reminder that it's not too late to make a difference.
The show wisely ended on a perfect high note, as a time-traveling, pre-2000 election Gore burst onto the stage to remind us of our nostalgia for political optimism and discontinued 90's snacks, wrapping up the show with a beautiful, goofy bow. If it sounds insane, that's because it is, but just insane enough to grab your attention.
Past Al Gore learns the results of the 2000 electionphoto credit: Carly Hoogendyk
All proceeds for the upcoming holiday show on December 4th will benefit WEACT For Environmental Justice, a nonprofit that encourages climate change activism on a local level.
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