Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 18
A study in satireGale McNeeley brings decades of experience of song and satire to Santa Maria
BY JOE PAYNEThere are those who look at the ills of the world and moan and lament. But others realize that sometimes all we can do is sit back and laugh.
Gale McNeeley is a local actor who’s enjoyed a career on and off Broadway, all over the country. His upcoming show at Café Noir in Santa Maria showcases his penchant for comedy.
“Generally speaking, I like to make people laugh because there is enough serious stuff going on in the world,” he said. “I enjoy satire and wit more than just punch lines.”
Satire typically deals with the big subjects: politics, society, and religion; yet it casts these big, heady subjects in a light of silliness and humor.
“We’re laughing at ourselves; we’re laughing at our leaders, all the big wigs who are supposed to be in control,” he said. “Because obviously no one is in control.”
The show, simply titled Songs and Satire, features songs from several famous satirists as well as by McNeeley himself. Expect a favorable selection of Tom Lehrer’s work; he’s something of a demigod in satirical music, and a lifelong favorite of McNeeley’s.
“I like to feature creators who created things that are timeless,” McNeeley said. “Tom Lehrer wrote his songs in the ’50s, and they still work with audiences today because it is such good satire.”
Lehrer is known for songs like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” “The Masochism Tango,” and “The Element.” Some of Lehrer’s songs were his own original compositions and some, like “The Elements,” take melodies from famous songs and turn them on their heads.
“Tom Lehrer inspired my writing,” McNeeley said. “At this show I will be premiering a new song about Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on the NSA and it’s set to the tune of ‘Let it Snow.’”
McNeeley will also be bringing back one of his characters, Sister Dominiqee-niqee-nique. Raised Catholic himself, McNeeley came up with the idea of a nun who wants to run for pope.
“She is a reincarnation of the Singing Nun, and she has been away for seven years now,” he said. “She has a new job at a medical marijuana dispensary, so she will be singing about medical marijuana.”
McNeeley won’t be alone in his show; he’ll be enjoying musical accompaniment by local pianist Betty Faas.
“We have worked together for eight years now; she’s done all of my shows and she’s a wonderful accompanist,” McNeeley said. “She also plays Sister Betty when Sister Dominiqee-niqee-nique arrives. Some people know her just as Sister Betty.”
More comedic material will come from Wayne and Shuster, the Canadian comedy duo of the mid-20th century. McNeeley will be presenting their “Rinse the Blood Off My Toga,” which is about the murder of Julius Cesar in the style of a dramatic radio show, complete with a guest Foley artist.
“A friend of mine, Charles Getzoff, will be doing the sound,” McNeeley said. “We do ‘Rinse the Blood Off My Toga’ as if it’s a 1950s radio show.”
With the help of his collaborators, McNeeley plans to take his show on the road—not that far, mind you, but as far off as San Luis Obispo and Ojai. But first, he’ll be presenting his show in Santa Maria, one of his favorite places to perform.
“I love producing shows locally; I’ve been doing it since 2004,” he said. “I really enjoy being in front of an audience. I feel I am most myself when I am creating characters and making people laugh.” m
Arts Editor Joe Payne is a devoted Tom Lehrer fan as well. Contact him at email@example.com.