Saturday’s Voyeur

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This year’s edition of the venerable “Saturday’s Voyeur” franchise isn’t very funny, but it does have lots of swearing, if that helps you any.

Profanity can be funny sometimes, and it occasionally is here — but not enough to make up for the fact that the cynical parody of Utah society lacks punch as well as punch lines.

Based on everything from the “Little Rascals” films to Greek mythology, “Our Gang and the Zoodoo Voodoo Follies” is about a group of Mormon kids who think their “Zoodoo” club is the swellest club ever, and they want the world to know it. With the help of a shady demigod named Chubsy (Duane Stephens), they plan to host the Olympics — but first they’ll have to wine and dine the Gorgons.

They’re willing to do absolutely ANYTHING, though, to show the world they’re not as weird as everyone thinks they are, to prove that they can “do more than ride around on bicycles wearing cheap suits and nametags” (that’s the best writers/directors Allen Nevins and Nancy Borgenicht can do for a Mormon joke).

The club is led by the ambitious Mike Leavitt (Jonathon Phipps), with folks like DeeDee Corridini (Robin Ballard) and Jan Graham Cracker (Emily Sloan-Pace) in tow. Nosy reporter Peabody Vanocur (Aaron Swenson) eventually cracks the story, thanks to a tip from Chubsy’s slave monkeys Happy (Traci Brewster) and Tammy (Tamara Sleight).

Mitt Romney (Alexis Baigue) is played as a do-gooder Cub Scout, and Baigue’s singing voice is fantastic. Beating him for best performer, though, is Natalie Banks as Sweetcheeks Utah, an innocent little lisp-voiced girl who just wants to help her native land. Her “Davis County” song, in which she sings her life story, is hysterical — the highlight of a show desperately in need of highlights.

Part of the problem is that this year’s “Voyeur” is too narrowly focused. While there are passing references to a few other recent events (Leavitt’s “Envision Utah” thing, the dropping of fecal matter on houses, etc.), the Olympics scandal is center stage the whole time, and there are only so many jokes you can make about that.

Furthermore, the satire is frequently heavy-handed and, what’s worse, unclear on who the targets are. We know that the zoo the kids run represents all of Utah. But who are the monkeys, for example? The point is made that they knew what was going on the whole time, but no one would listen to them. Are they meant to be some downtrodden, under-represented group in Utah that everyone ignores? And is that who supposedly leaked the Olympics scandal to the press in real life? It gets very muddy, trying to combine all these symbols and prototypes into one parody.

There are funny moments in the show, but very few that are really clever or witty. And while everything seems to be building up to a point, it’s uncertain what that point is. What’s the message: that the SLOC shouldn’t have done what it did? Duh. Satire should skewer its targets in a pointed, humorous way; “Saturday’s Voyeur” just stabs them randomly without ever amounting to anything.

Quite a letdown from the previous year's "Voyeur," which had been my first exposure to the infamous Utah subculture phenomenon. 1998's show, while perhaps even more profane than 1999's, was 10 times funnier and more trenchant; this one just kind of limped along.

By the way, try finding a date to something you know is going to be full of profanity and jokes mocking your religion. Just try.

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