[Metroactive Music]

[ Music Index | Santa Cruz | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

'George W. Bush Stole My Act!'

Roy Zimmerman on tough times for political satirists

By Peter Koht

With the election now only a month away, the main challenge facing singer and lyricist Roy Zimmerman is that satire and reality are becoming uncomfortably similar. "With real headlines like 'Kissinger to Head Truth Commission,' how do you write something funny?" asks Zimmerman. "The line between satire and reality is now so thin! Its kind of hard to deal with."

Without pausing for air, the articulate Zimmerman gets to the heart of the problem. "George W. Bush is now stealing my material. I used to do this line that Republican policies appeal to all kinds of people--the haves and the have lots. Then I saw the footage in Fahrenheit 9/11 where he is addressing a banquet of donors and he says, 'This is an impressive crowd, the haves and the have mores.'"

Currently touring with his one-man show, Roy Zimmerman's Patriot Act--which he brings to Moe's Alley Monday, Oct. 11--in support of his two recently released solo discs Homeland and Security, Zimmerman has developed a repertoire of devilishly precise lyrical attacks upon the silliness of American political reality. His insight and wit leave very few public policy issues unexplored, even the painful ones most comics steer around. Like, for instance: "Not many people know this, but the No Child Left Behind Act was the original name of the bombing of Baghdad."

Zimmerman is a man who clearly loves his work. A former member of the Foremen now free to follow his muse as a solo act, he can frequently turn a song around within the span of single day.

"It is joy to write a song," he says. "It is how I am built. It is not 'work' so much as it is 'hard fun' to take a headline and set it to music and then hopefully get people to laugh at it."

While his fair and balanced sense of humor clearly swings to the left, he is not above taking a few shots at those Democrats who have ascended to the upper echelons of power in Washington. In his song, "Do the Clinton," he lambasted Bill's famous centrism, and his current take on John Kerry is less than dewy-eyed.

"Kerry is no miracle worker, nor a knight in shining armor for America," he says. "It just confuses me that the Democrats cannot field a strong candidate to face the Republicans."

Although primarily a solo act nowadays, Zimmerman will be joined onstage at Moe's by Stevie Coyle, who has been his friend and collaborator for many years.

"The two of us met and were involved with a theater group called the Collective Theater in Santa Clara in the early '80s," he says. "Which will be fondly remembered by the members of the Collective Theater. Then, in 1984 we formed the Reagan Brothers, which was a comedy duo. We did that for a few years, and then we both moved down to Los Angeles as part of the Attractive Trio. That was in 1986."

While Zimmerman was compelled to stay in Los Angeles for love, Coyle returned to the northern half of the state to start the Waybacks. Not content being musically single, Zimmerman went on to perform with the Foremen, whose folksy earnestness and political bent lambasted the '60s folk scene long before Christopher Guest figured out how to play the mandolin. Now after 18 years apart, Zimmerman and Coyle are prepared to mount the stage together for what could be a very revealing evening.

"We have a very natural repartee, and we know stuff about each other that we don't want anyone else to know," says Zimmerman. "There is tension between us to see who will say what about each other."

In between insults and embarrassing stories, the two performers will undoubtedly open up on their favorite topic, politics. But while taking pot shots at the Shrub is a long established part of the act, Zimmerman is still confident in the ideals behind this nation.

"America as a place is doing fine," he says. "Unfortunately, the beautiful idea that is America has been taken hostage. If you will forgive the comparison, it is in danger of being beheaded by Bush and his cronies."

When contemplating his career after the upcoming election,

Sometimes Zimmerman is asked if his career will be over if Kerry is elected.

"I respond by saying that hopefully on Nov. 3rd I will be doing a show called Pretty Love Songs," he says. "But Kerry and all his people are just as susceptible to greed, lust and corruption. However, unlike the Bushies, they are not bent on world domination."

Roy Zimmerman and Stevie Coyle perform on Monday, Oct. 11, at 7pm at Moe's Alley. Tickets are $14/advance, $17/door; call 831.479.9421.

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the October 6-13, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate