The delightful thing about Americans is that you can’t define them by just one stereotype — there’s a wide diversity of crude and cruel tropes available for mockery. In the Iron Sink Media-produced Freakdom of Speech, America — as depicted by Patrick Bristow (a Groundlings comedy veteran and prolific TV guest star) — is white, dumb and slightly crazy, but the personalities put on display encapsulate a nice range within that sphere.
Launching on Inauguration Day 2009 with an Obama-themed episode, the fictional characters Bristow “interviews” on the subject of the new Commander in Chief tackle the topic with uninformed vigor. Hipsters in a coffee shop posture about their newfound respect for “the ethnic.” A conservative Christian couple is prepared not just for the Rapture, but for the onset of socialism. A senile old lady refers to Obama as “Big Ears,” a term which her daughter responds to as if it were a racial slur. And a pair of strippers couch their discussion of the current economic climate in the context of lap dance tips (expressing their hopes that Obama, as president, will make serving alcohol in strip clubs legal — because drunk dudes tip better).
It’s honestly a concept that, if executed poorly, would just be crass and offensive. Fortunately, the quality of the performances and writing manages to push this series into truly funny territory. While some actual racial diversity amongst the cast wouldn’t have gone amiss, and the inclusion of the strippers feels like a cheap play to engage Iron Sink’s 18-to-24-year-old male audience, it’s a strong piece of short-form entertainment with a lot of clear possibilities for future installments.
Next week’s episode, focusing on sex, takes a fresh approach to the subject by focusing on specific topics like Thomas Beatie, the “pregnant man.” While that particular story is a little out of date, the framework these first two epsiodes establish leaves plenty of room for the series to tackle topical issues. And the somewhat depressing truth is: Even if this new administration truly means a reborn United States, the sort of idiocy represented by these characters will still be relevant.