Engel, writing in The Washington Post, has a tremendous
profile of political satirist Randy Rainbow. He’s great and this gushing
piece matches his gusto.
Hundreds of thousands watch the short videos he produces every 10
days or so, featuring show tunes and pop songs he has refashioned with
biting new lyrics. These DIY productions are funny and oh-so-topical and
include clever video manipulation of news footage to create sassy mock
interviews with prominent political players — mostly of the Trumpian
variety — topped off with costumes ordered online.
It’s no secret that in 21st-century America, power over public
opinion doesn’t reside exclusively with editorialists or news anchors.
We are now Entertainment Nation, and society’s jesters — Stephen
Colbert, Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher, etc. — have
become as influential as the Walter Cronkites and David Brinkleys of
Rainbow, with his snappy riffs on the politics of the day, is a
prominent part of this new and influential group, but he offers
something distinct: a very old tradition of musical satire updated for
the YouTube age. Think of him as a modern-day Gilbert and Sullivan, or
the millennial version of the piano-playing Mark Russell or Tom Lehrer —
the key difference being that his get-it-out-fast production marathons
and savvy use of social media bring his commentary to the public
quickly, directly and with no filter. Competitors like the Capitol Steps
strive to put the mock in democracy as fast as possible, but with
multiple writers and cast members, they can’t equal Rainbow’s speed. In
a world on hyperdrive, he delivers near-instant gratification: Within
minutes of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s appearance before members of
Congress, for instance, Rainbow was taking song requests from fans on
Twitter. Three days after Roger Stone was arrested in January, Rainbow
posted “The Donald Trump Cell Block Tango,” a video parody of a number
from the musical “Chicago.”
“Musical satire updated for the YouTube age” is spot on. Watch Very Stable Genius and just
marvel at his lyrics.