Real News, 'Fake' Laughs

Journalists take to stage to spoof their world


"There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor."

-- Charles Dickens

File Photo KUAF's Antoinette Grajeda and Flip Putthoff of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette share the stage during a previous Gridiron Show.

File Photo In a previous Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show, Steve Voorhies portrayed Hugo Bezdek, the coach who came up with "Razorbacks" as a team mas...


Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show

WHEN — Doors open at 6:45 p.m. with the show at 7:30 p.m. today & Saturday

WHERE — Arkansas Public Theatre at the Victory, 116 S. Second St. in Rogers

COST — $25

INFO — 631-8988 or nwagridiron.com

BONUS — There will be a cash bar and snacks for sale.

The challenge for this year's Northwest Arkansas Gridiron Show writers and cast wasn't in finding material to lampoon.

"It's a funny show," says Gridiron veteran Ray Minor, "but there's so much material we had to leave out."

Still, the writers, producers and cast have managed to pack a lot into the annual show, which spoofs news and newsmakers on the local, state, national and world stages. No matter what one's political point of view, this Gridiron's "a great opportunity to laugh at our politicians, local and national," says DeMarius Davis, who will perform in his fourth show.

The curtain rises on the annual production today and Saturday at Arkansas Public Theatre in Rogers.

The theme for this year's show is "Fake Laughs." Rogers Mayor Greg Hines is this year's master of ceremonies. The Northwest Arkansas Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists produces the show with support from the Fayetteville Branch of the American Association of University Women. Emily Kaitz is the musical director.

Britt Graves is one of three producers for this year's show, sharing those responsibilities with Sarah Warnock and Erin Spandorf. Graves mentions some of the challenges in trying to stage a show about the news. "We're trying to deal with national politics in a way that will make everyone laugh instead of cry," she says.

Graves will take to the stage herself and portray a national icon in the show in a skit related to a policy subject in the news. National news, such as protests and health care, will be spotlighted, and there's also a skit that does a takeoff on the former television series "The West Wing." State and local issues also will be spoofed, as the Gridiron offers a glimpse at how medical marijuana might be implemented, takes a peek at traffic on the new section of the Bella Vista bypass and lets the audience listen in to a sports call-in show.

"The Arkansas legislature was plenty busy this year, and the Gridiron writers took notice, while also recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' 'Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' album," Spandorf says. Closer to home, "the Arkansas Music Pavilion -- the AMP -- has seen some disturbances this year, something the Gridiron writers couldn't ignore. Outdoor art seems to be quite popular these days, so Gridiron sits in on a presentation of new ideas for murals, [and] finally on the local scene, the writers poke fun at the frequent listing of Fayetteville and other Northwest Arkansas towns on 'best of' lists."

Favorite segments from past shows will return again with "Timely News Update" -- including commentator Dr. Red Neck (Steve Voorhies) -- and longtime Springdale News reporter and Freedom of Information Act advocate Brenda Blagg will share her thoughts about the events of the day as her Ozarkian alter-ego Letitia Mae Stufflebeam.

The Society of Professional Journalists will fund scholarships with its portion of the proceeds, and AAUW will contribute its share to the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, the AAUW scholarship at the University of Arkansas and the AAUW Educational Foundation and Legal Advocacy Fund. The show will also benefit the Arkansas Public Theatre building fund.

NAN What's Up on 10/06/2017

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