A liberal dose of laughs

Political satire fills Roy Zimmerman folk music
Roy Zimmerman's songs carry the same spirit as Tom Lehrer and Phil Ochs.Photo courtesy of Metaphor Recor

Folk artist and political satirist Roy Zimmerman writes humorous, topical songs that take irreverent pokes at the right wing and its exploits. His hilarious, rhyme-filled originals — in the spirit of Tom Lehrer and Phil Ochs — also are calls for action.

"I write about politics and social issues."

If you go

Who: Roy Zimmerman

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1

Where: Ashland Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland

Admission: $18 or pay-what-you-can

Call: 541-774-6996 or see www.jcls.org

Zimmerman will present one of his 90-minute shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Ashland library, 410 Siskyou Blvd. Admission is $18 or pay-what-you-can. Call 541-774-6996.

The 2012 presidential election was a busy one for Zimmerman. He and his wife traveled around the country presenting 161 shows in 49 states — a feat that could claim some credit for Barack Obama's reelection.

"We even made it to Alaska," Zimmerman says. "We drove everywhere, so Hawaii was a bit out of our range.

"I'm always able to find the bright, blue dots in red environments. When you perform a progressive show in a place where you may be the only progressive thing happening, the progressive people will come out to see you. The idea is to get out and meet some of the most progressive people in some of the least progressive places in the country."

Zimmerman says he and his wife had great shows in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Oxford, Miss.; and Birmingham, Ala.

"You wouldn't expect a hotbed of movement toward issues such as same-sex marriage rights, anti-corporatism, health care and education in places like those," Zimmerman says. "But we found people working against some mighty, big odds to be sure education, women's safety and the environment are well-funded."

Zimmerman says he ran into some objections during last year's shows.

"Some told me that they disagreed with what I said, but they told me they laughed anyway. This year, now that the election is over, I think we'll focus more on social issues that always concern people and less on Republicans versus Democrats."

Some of Zimmerman's biggest crowd-pleasers include "I Want a Marriage Like They Had in the Bible," "Creation Science 101" and "Ted Haggard is Completely Heterosexual."

"A lot of the talk on the 2012 campaign trail was about marriage," Zimmerman says. "Those who oppose same-sex marriage quote from the Bible, but if you look there, you'll find examples of polygamy, incest, slavery and outright cruelty. I sing the song in a Gatlin Brothers, gospel style from the perspective of someone who is championing a biblical image of marriage."

Zimmerman takes the same slant in "Creation Science 101," a song about teaching creationism in schools.

"I take the perspective of creationism advocates in an attempt to reveal the absurdity of their arguments," he says. "It's a 'Yakety Sax'-style song with gospel overtones.

"The song I wrote about Ted Haggard sounds like it might have come from Irving Berlin's 'Annie Get Your Gun.' It was used in a documentary produced for HBO by Alexandra Pelosi," Zimmerman says. "She played the song for Haggard to get his reaction. He said, 'It's really bad. It's poorly done. But it's funny.' "


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