Mean-spirited, stupid and staggeringly unfunny, Good Enough for Government Work is not good enough for anyone. Writer/director/performer Joey Maranto, himself some sort of Federal auditing supervisor, issues jibes against Federal employees which range from the banal – Federal employees are lazy! And it’s hard to fire them! – to the bizarre – Federal employees on travel eat expired meat products to save money for lap dances! – but he seems to reserve a special venom for the old, the disabled and the unpopular. Maranto remembers that on the day he received his security clearance, he fantasized about going out to Roswell, New Mexico and demanding to see the aliens. “With my luck, they’d think I was from Customs and show me illegal immigrants,” he says, adding gracelessly, “I could fit about fifty of them in my G-[government] car.”
Maranto is amused by the blind person who filed an EEO claim because he was denied a window office. Dude, the guy is blind, not dead. Window offices are generally larger, better appointed, and closer to centers of power than are interior offices. Besides, the blind worker’s visitors might like the view, even if he can’t see it.
And don’t get him started on old people. The Federal Sector can’t make you retire (neither can the private sector, Joey), so there are some people in their eighties still working there! (In my Federal office, the two oldest workers are brilliant lawyers who hold much of my Agency’s institutional memory.) Apparently, old people talk a lot in Marantoland, and Joey’s big fear is that a member of the “geezer gauntlet” will stop him on the way to the bathroom. The geezer might go on for so long, Joey worries, that Joey will end up accidentally upending the cistern of nature. That’s why Joey always wears black pants, he explains – to hide any possible stains.
This gives rise to the show’s second problem: its unspeakable vulgarity. Great comics like George Carlin or Richard Pryor use vulgarity in a context which drives important truths home. But Moranto’s frequent meditations on flatulence, defecation, menstruation and urination seem to be an end unto themselves. This would make Moranto the funniest comedian in the fourth grade, but it is a little behind the curve in the Fringe Festival. I could give examples but, frankly, it’s too depressing.
All right, here’s an example. Early in the show, Moranto describes an expedition some Federal employees took to a West Virginia strip club. There were only two strippers: one pregnant, and the other drunk. With skill and caution, it would be possible to craft this into a Hunter Thompsonesque story involving, say, the strippers, guns, some ether and an SF-1012. But to Moranto, that was the whole story: two strippers, one pregnant, one drunk.
Moranto concludes with a Don Rickles-like bit on how much he really loves being a Federal employee, how much good we do, and so on. We kid because we love. The unfortunate thing is that somebody really could write a very funny monologue about Federal employees; our arrogance and our self-referential world. But this ain’t it, Jack.
- Running time: 60 minutes
- Tickets: Good Enough for Government Work
- Remaining Shows: Sun, July 13 at 5:30 . Fri, July 18 at 7 . Sat, July 19 at 5
- Where: Cole Studio 1714 15th St NW, (rear)
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