Nothing says the holidays like political humor…
In 2006, we created the very first incarnation of This Is The Week That Is. It was a history of political humor—from vaudeville stump speeches and Will Rogers routines through the social and political stand-up comedy of Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory to the contemporary sketch and late-night humor of Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show.
The name was taken from the 1960s British television show That Was The Week That Was which combined musical numbers, sketch comedy, and a satirical news anchor skewering events of the day. The American version of this show ran for only a year and featured such heavy hitters as David Frost, Nichols and May, Alan Alda, and Tom Lehrer among others.
Our version was also supposed to last for only a year. Thirteen years and three Presidential administrations later, here we are. Each year we start the first day of rehearsal with a one-page outline and nothing else. Then, over the course of three weeks we write and create a two-hour production. Each year has provided its own set of challenges and topics that are difficult to laugh at and this year is no different. There is a saying in satire that “you can make fun of the smoke but not the fire.” That is all fine and well, but what do you do when everything seems to be fire?
Each year one of the ways we find our way to the funny is by asking ourselves the question: Why does this have to be theater, and what can we do here that can’t be done on television? And our answer always comes back to you, the audience. You are what makes this different than watching SNL on a Saturday night. Because we are all here—Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Party, you name it—we are all here in the room together. Laughing together.
This year the American Theatre Wing acknowledged the longevity and uniqueness of This Is The Week That Is by commissioning us to create a documentary about the making of the show. It’s been an interesting exercise to look back while also looking forward. I am so grateful to the many people who have worked on this show over the years and helped make it the institution it is. And I am very grateful to you for being here. Because without you…I’d just be watching TV tonight.
Producing Artistic Director