Broadway bids Bush a final farewell Ferrell’s rendering of 43: Dim and damned

By Scott Harrah

Former President George W. Bush gave America endless opportunities for parody, and Will Ferrell bushwhacks nearly every aspect of Dubya’s personality and presidency in the nonstop hilarious “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George Bush.” Although the show may seem at times like an extended 80-minute “Saturday Night Live” skit, Ferrell’s satirical needle is sharp — stabbing into everything from the former commander-in-chief’s privileged upbringing to his Yale days to his infamous eight years in the White House. Even diehard Republicans will find it hard not to laugh at Ferrell’s scathing, marvelously entertaining caricature of the ex-president, which has been beautifully directed by Adam McKay.

Ferrell hits the comic bulls-eye on nearly everything about Bush — from his semi-articulate Texas cowboy accent to his political attitudes about minorities and his handling of domestic and global affairs. From parachuting onto the stage from a Marine One chopper to joking about being in the “faggy theater district” to referring to President Obama as “the Tiger Woods guy,” Ferrell skewers the 43rd president with zeal and conviction.

Show highlights include Bush talking about his alleged homosexual encounter with friend Dave Rothschild at Yale, and his tale of Dick Cheney’s unspeakable act with a “goat devil” in the White House basement. Best of all is a raucous scene with Condoleezza Rice (played with farcical brilliance by Pia Glenn) who, clad in a sexy skirt, gyrates around the Oval Office like an exotic dancer at a strip club. This is hardly a family-friendly show, as Ferrell plays Bush as a potty-mouthed, overgrown juvenile, but the one-liners and comedy always work.

From his much-maligned handling of Hurricane Katrina to Iraq and Afghanistan, Ferrell covers every deplorable moment of Bush’s presidency. He lambastes liberal New York Times columnists and everyone else who dared to question Dubya’s actions. Most of Ferrell’s impersonation exposes Bush for the smarmy creature he was, showing the ex-president to be quite aware of his shortcomings and many foolish mistakes. “Am I the worst president of all time?” he asks the audience at one point.

The show contains some bits of filler, such as a Secret Service agent dancing to techno music (most likely to allow Ferrell to make costume changes), but director Adam McKay keeps everything moving at such a razor-sharp pace that some of the less-funny scenes never bog down Ferrell’s biting, quick-witted narrative.

One of the show’s more amusing moments features Ferrell as Bush asking audience members their name and occupation. As each person raises his or her hand and says what they do for a living, Ferrell gives people hilarious nicknames, and this makes for some superb audience interaction.

Even if you’re not a fan of Will Ferrell’s, it’s impossible not to laugh your head off throughout “You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush.” The show runs through March 15, but fans can catch the play on HBO starting March 14, with encore presentations through April.