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Satirist Barry Crimmins kicks off Urban Rituals

BARRY CRIMMINS

Political satirist.

Part of the Urban Rituals series.

Necco Place, Friday, March 9.

By ELIZABETH WILLIAMS

BARRY CRIMMINS is not lighthearted, but he is definitely funny. He performed at Necco Place last Friday to kick off the March series Urban Rituals, which features new music and performance.

Crimmins -- with biting, aggressive wit -- attacks all that is American politics. Nothing is sacred. A hardcore liberal, Crimmins does not pull any punches when it comes to criticizing the Bush and Reagan administrations. Sure, he says, Reagan did not negotiate with terrorists -- "these prices are firm." And on Bush: "If it fits on a bumper sticker, it's policy."

To appreciate Crimmins' humor, one must be on top of the news. He whirlwinds through a wide spectrum of current events. On Mandela's release: "They say he's free, but isn't he still a black man in South Africa?" He deals with Nixon, Seabrook, Exxon, Panama and Noriega, to name just a few.

Crimmins' routine is also peppered with jokes for those who haven't read the headlines. He describes the stagnant atmosphere of the small right wing New York town he comes from and then goes on to amusingly insult Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and the Midwest -- "They call it the heartland because the brain certainly isn't there."

Crimmins is straightforward on stage. He enters with his spiral notebook and Budweiser and gets comfortable with the audience like a tactless relative who tells stories which are true but not pleasant dinner conversation. His only flaw is an occasional jab at the audience for being "dead."

At times Crimmins drops his humorous approach to make a serious and angry criticism. On Oliver North: "The man is a mass murderer. He is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people." Crimmins finishes up his show inviting the audience to suggest any topics or personalities they would like him to cover.

If Crimmins' show is an indication of things to come, the Urban Rituals series at Necco Place will prove to be both entertaining and intellectually satisfying for audiences.

Tuesday's feature article on AIDS Response at MIT ["AIDS awareness focus of ARMIT"] incorrectly named the founders of the group. Kristen A. Gardner '90 was the only founder.