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A Town Hall With Paul Ryan Starring Chris Fairbanks

  • Comedy Club on State 202 State Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)

A comedic dragging of the oft-absent Congressman from Janesville. Info/tix


Speaker of the House and former Mitt Romney running mate Paul Ryan has increasingly come under fire of late for shying away from town halls in his southern Wisconsin Congressional district and taking what any reasonable person would consider a light touch in checking the Trump administration. (In the pre-Trump days, he merely came under fire for his Rand-ian devotion to austerity measures.) In fact, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) has taken it upon himself to hold town halls in Ryan's district, and Ryan's lack of presence at home has helped to create openings for the sensational campaign of Democratic challenger Randy Bryce and the dangerous antics of far-right anti-Semite Paul Nehlen. Now, LA-based stand-up Chris Fairbanks gets in on the dragging with a Midwestern tour of "town halls" featuring his own Ryan impersonation. (Note: A few days after this item was initially posted, Ryan announced that he will not be seeking re-election.)

Complete with a widow's peak (is it drawn on with a Sharpie? I seriously can't tell) and a healthy amount of that expression Ryan makes where he's either feigning sadness or trying to clasp his face together at the mouth like an unwieldy handbag, Fairbanks plays the Speaker as an infantilized boob. There's a bit of a dark, surreal touch to Fairbanks' parodies of that ridiculous workout photoshoot, but mostly his Paul Ryan just ties himself into knots by spouting confused gibberish. Ryan's predicament lends itself to plenty of dark humor—as Owen Ellickson demonstrates in his "Trump Leaks" Twitter series, portraying Ryan as aghast at Trump but amorally scrambling to save his own political hide—and there is plenty of nuance to mine in Ryan's extraordinary cunning and policy-wonk pretensions. Fairbanks' doofus-y portrayal feels like a missed opportunity, but there's no reason he can't bring more dimension to it as he road-tests the act near Ryan's home turf. Perhaps Fairbanks will come back soon for a set of his more straightforward and charming stand-up. —Scott Gordon