What They’re Saying About
I just spent the past 40+ minutes going through one of your songs after another loving them all. You are certainly my favorite lyricist – feh on Sondheim.
Fran Korotzer, NYC
One of our cleverest, quickest-minded topical singers.
Dick Flacks, “Culture of Protest,” KCSB
One of the most insightful and talented up to the minute troubadours on the planet today.
“42”, Klamath Falls Radio (Oregon)
I thought you would get a kick out of this absolutely true adventure I experienced up here in Westchester County this past week. I returned home late Tuesday night after working the late shift at the Scarsdale New York Public Library. Feeling a real bug up my ass, and grumpy to boot, I turned on my stereo, and inserted your latest CD, programmed the stereo to repeat only my favorite track, PITY THE NATION/FIRST THEY CAME/I DON’T FIGHT FOR CONQUERORS over and over at maximum volume. Shortly after midnight there was a knock on my door–it was the local New Rochelle Police, responding to a noise complaint from another tenant in the building. The police said they heard the music the moment they stepped out of their squad car. I decided to “call their bluff” by asking, “Was the music really that loud?!” The two cops then proceded to recite the entire chorus of I DON’T FIGHT FOR CONQUERORS exactly correct to each and every word! I took the ‘discussion’ to another level by saying, “Do you agree with the theme of the song?”, to which they responded, “We are not allowed to have opinions about anything while on duty, but we did hear every word.” —-Mike Levinson, New Rochelle
DAVE LIPPMAN, celebrated political satirist, had the audience in stitches as he portrayed the ‘Bard of Bankers’ and tore a new one for the transglobal capitalists and lost tea party minions equally. His punchy, comedic songs called attention to so many issues in such rapid succession that I lost count. Basking in the glow of his Bush-inspired, insipid characters, Lippman laughs at the conservative heartland even as he looks deep into the core of us all. As he set out to do, he kept the Festival “fairly unbalanced” in the best possible way. – culturalworker.blogspot, 8/11
The bard of the beltway.
Seven Days – Burlington, Vermont
One of my favorite political satirists. This is a very funny man.
Erich Lee Preminger, KGO-TV, San Francisco
An albino James Baldwin.
Those who love prejudice, stupidity, megacorporations, the Bohemian
Club and the disappearance of local culture will hate this CD.
Brilliant political satire.
U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
The Dean felt that more harm than good would come from your visit.
Student, Skidmore College, New York
Dave Lippman’s is a unique voice on the current folk scene. Surprising,
sharp and soothing by turns, it is a voice one wants to hear more of.
With his astute observations about the American political system and his
sly, often underplayed humor, Lippman is a national treasure.
A one-man satirical barn-burner…astute musical mockeries…hilarious.
Now Magazine, Toronto
An amazing, very funny and very acerbic songwriter with some
lovely, biting barbs. Great songs from a vitriolic pen.
A political Weird Al Yankovich
A latter-day Tom Lehrer…a voice that sounds like Woody
Guthrie one minute, Lenny Bruce the next.
Politically loaded…deadpan and deadon.
Original tunes that quirkily combine Phil Ochs and David Byrne.
by Corey Hall
Detroit Metro Times
As the legendarily acerbic newspaper man H.L. Mencken once said, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” That’s a maxim clearly taken to heart with equal vigor by both politicos and entertainers. Mencken also famously noted, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public,” and that certainly seems true when considering what has often passed for political satire in this country over the decades. The sheer absurdity and abject horror of the current administration has seemingly awakened a latent taste for irony in the masses and made stars of smarty pants like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher — but it’s a fairly recent development.
In years past, if you were a comedian who wanted to slip the powerful a bitter pill, you had to coat it in a thick dollop of honey to enjoy even modest success, or simply resort to smashing watermelons if you wanted to play the big rooms. Sure, there have always been impressionists, those who studiously copied Reagan’s stammer, Nixon’s wagging jowls or Jerry Ford’s pratfalls, but this seldom amounted to more than simple mockery. And, yes, there was Mark Russell, with his bow tie and Cheshire cat grin, amusing PBS-watching senior citizens with his vanilla piano ditties about Tip O’Neill, but his humor sported about as many cutting edges as a pool table. True and probing political satire, the kind that’s funny till it hurts, has been relegated to the fringes of showbiz — or quietly snuck in through the back door.
That’s how satirist Dave Lippman works. He fights the good and lonely fight, chasing after Capitol Hill dragons with a guitar slung over his shoulder and a pair of mirrored aviators plastered to his face. Billed as “America’s most dangerous political satirist,” Lippman performs as both himself and his uptight alter ego George Shrub, “the world’s only known singing CIA agent.” Having honed his folk iconoclast credentials in the golden age of rebellion as a ’60s college campus rabble-rouser in the San Francisco area, he began writing songs, one of which was recorded by Country Joe Macdonald. In the early ’80s, he developed his Shrub persona, based very loosely on the elder Bush, but also used as a comic mouthpiece to echo all manner of right-wing paranoia (an act that’s never gone out of style or run out of inspiration over the decades). Over the years, Lippman has trekked across the globe, performing in Europe, such Latin American hot spots as Nicaragua, El Salvador and Venezuela, and most recently in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Described by the Los Angeles Times as a “mix of Phil Ochs and David Byrne,” his performance is part parody, part geopolitical lecture and folk music concert. He jams out on tunes like “The Twelve Days of Bushmas,” “I Wonder Who’s Kissinger Now” and the ironically feel-good anthem “I Hate Wal-Mart.” Lippman also incorporates multimedia into his presentation, mixing travelogue and oral history in his piece “Star of Goliath,” which chronicles the long journey of the Palestinian people, the Jewish perspective and the tortured history of the Holy Land. Detroiters will have three separate opportunities to discover Lippman’s unusual talents on the local leg of his tour.
While the powerbrokers, hawks and plutocrats continue to own the airwaves, with their own pundits and media cheerleaders to spew out the same old claptrap, there is solace in artists like Lippman, who do what they can try to change the world one mind at a time.
Our Situation’s Laughable
Caffe Lena, May 3, 2005
by B.A. Nilsson
Metroland (Albany, NY)
Dave Lippman has targeted the Capital Region with the deftness of a CIA strike, with four performances throughout the area. It began Tuesday night with a Caffe Lena show that brought together Lippman and alter ego George Shrub for an evening of keen social commentary and wry, devastatingly funny songs.
Lippman has a deft way with a lyric, almost making it sound easy as he skewers the social and political scene. It’s not enough to say that the Bush administration has simplified matters for satirists, although there’s no question that in terms of fantastic behavior, this gang in the White House (and Congress!) has all past administrations beat.
Tom Lehrer claimed to have given up when Henry Kissinger was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, but Lippman lopes along, grabbing up the Lehrer legacy, adding a measure of performance art in his impersonation of a hawkish soothsayer for the first half of the show.
That’s when George Shrub takes to the stage, in sunglasses, suit and tie, the latter clamped in place by fist-sized warplane. He’s your classic Cold War spook, gleefully updated to a 21st-century oil-obsessed, power-mad keeper of the enemies list.
“For those of you who don’t know me,” he began, “I know you.” What followed was a madcap monologue, punctuated with songs, justifying the U.S. government’s need to manipulate other countries while oppressing its own citizens. He noted that our actions in the “Meddle” East are misunderstood: “We don’t just go in there because of oil. If it was just oil we’d bomb Texas.”
And then he asked, “Why do the people over there hate us? Well, our manipulation of their economies and access to their resources, and stationing our troops in their holy sites and overthrowing their governments-these things they’re ambivalent about. Our freedom-this is what they hate. As a result of this, we’ve had to hide it from them. And I apologize that we had to destroy the Bill of Rights in order to save it.”
Unveiling a map of the world, Mr. Shrub gave us a tongue-twister of a social studies lesson, eventually asking the audience to shout out names of “countries we’re concerned about,” each of which he was able to describe in some hilarious way.
Shedding the fancy duds, Lippman took to the stage for the second half for a more music-intensive set. “The Twelve Days of Bushmas” reminded us that every day is a holiday to the current administration.
Although he cloaks it in humor, Lippman’s passion summoned the spirit of Phil Ochs with the song “I Don’t Fight for Congress,” a pacifist’s answer to “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore.” And I particularly enjoyed “My Favorite Songs,” a medley of rebellious anthems from our formative years that are now used to sell products, beginning with Dylan: “Come gather round people wherever you advertise/And admit that the ’60s sells Chryslers and fries.”
Behind the incisive songs and stand-up comedy is a dedicated human who happens to play a mean guitar and writes very affecting original material. Such are Lippman’s passions that he’ll never be a friend of the mainstream, but he’s an important voice in that most important stream: the one that cares for people and seeks to effect change.
Dave Lippman and George Shrub – The World’s Only Singing CIA Agent
by Bob Fitrakis
Columbus Free Press
October 20, 2003
The most damning indictment of George W. Bush’s administration occurred at Victorian’s Midnight Cafe on October 17. The performance by social issue satirist and songster Dave Lippman gave new meaning to the Bush-CIA rift.
Lippman, portraying George Shrub, the world’s only known singing CIA agent, invoked a political power last captured in the film “Bob Roberts.” Lippman, like Tim Robbins, understands the need for singing reactionaries.
Shrub billed himself as a member of the Committee to Intervene Anywhere. The organization’s philosophy sounded strikingly similar to Richard Perle and Dick Cheney’s Project for the New American Century. Shrub’s explanations have that “I’m a half-wit on speed” with a low-IQ quality so reminiscent of our incumbent President. His parody of a CIA agent proves hilarious primarily because the rhetoric is so near to classic Bush-isms.
My favorite was the sing-along to “I Wonder Who’s Kissinger Now?” Every war criminal should be so remembered. For the holiday season, buy the Lippman CD with the “12 Days of Bushmas” and have a sing-along with some eggnog. You can read more about Lippman, download his songs or buy his CDs at www.davelippman.com.
Remember, George Shrub and George Bush share the same point of view, “the Right one.” And you’re either with him, or you’re with the terrorists. They’re making a list. They’re checking it more than twice. They found all Free Press subscribers to be naughty, not nice. So be even naughtier — support Lippman’s efforts to laugh George W. out of office.
Salt Lake City Weekly, August 14, 2003
Satirical Agent Man
Dave Lippman fights the power with songs in the key of parody.
by Ed Richards
In this age of the Patriot Act and renewed jingoism, the art of political satire has lost its edge. When those claiming to represent the other side of the political spectrum have lost the tenacity to sardonically address the issues of the day, where exactly does a disenfranchised populace turn?
To the world’s only known singing CIA agent, of course.
In the form of alter-ego “George Shrub,” satirical songster Dave Lippman brazenly takes on topics ranging from globalism and sports “futility” vehicles, to the war in Iraq and the hegemony of Wal-Mart, armed only with an acoustic guitar, his ever-present sunglasses–and an increasing playlist.
“I used to make fun of people in my family,” Lippman explains. “Then I found more important enemies.”
With songs that include “12 Days of Bushmas,” “Sing a Song of Sweatshops,” and “I Wonder Who’s Kissinger Now?,” Lippman tirelessly strives to de-distort history and “afflict” the complacent.
Once described as being “like (piano-playing political satirist) Mark Russell, only funny,” Lippman sees the “Shrub” character as his own unique voice to rail against the system. “[The idea was], ‘Let’s tell the truth about the machinations they do, in their own voice’–or what we create as their voice,” says Lippman. “Lay the hypocrisy and venality bare. You have to have an audience that knows and cares about your topics. When people are lulled into complacency, satire isn’t funny.
“If you notice how people talk about the government, [when] people who aren’t too happy about it, they use sarcasm. The right wing talks about the left that way too. If you extend sarcasm down the road a bit, it becomes a consistent voice–a character, actually. With sarcasm, you are speaking in the voice of your adversary.”
In his view, even NPR and PBS’s political satirists have become too superficial–afraid of going deeper and offending their benefactors.
“That’s a violation of the Hippocratic Oath of the satirist: Be dangerous to the powerful,” he argues. “There are satire prisons for those who sully the name of satire by allowing corrupt and illegal power relations to remain in darkness.”
Given Utah’s reputation as a conservative stronghold, Lippman seems particularly enthused about his upcoming appearances in Park City and Salt Lake City.
“A stronghold is rarely a stranglehold,” he insists, “unless somebody like Mr. Ashcroft actually gets their way. But it’s always more interesting to play in a place where my ideas aren’t represented on the City Council or for more than five minutes on the radio … but I’ve always played the so-called hinterlands.”
His forthcoming appearances also happen to be part of a fundraising effort for People for Peace and Justice of Utah, an organization that advocates nonviolence. It’s a cause familiar to Lippman, who focuses his own time-off tour to a similar endeavor. He also works with media critique groups and writes articles as a correspondent for Free Speech Radio News.
So how does the everyday Lippman differ from the parody of Shrub?
“Total reversal, 360-degree [sic] difference,” he explains. “Shrub says he purveys the ‘Right Point of View,’ and I definitely feel that he has the right to keep it to himself. Not to violate his freedom of speech, but that right’s more important for the populace and dissidents than for the government and the corporations he shills for. He thinks freedom of speech is the right for one guy to own 45 percent of the country’s media, or the right to put ads in the classroom and on the moon. Also, I believe government should control corporations, and he believes it’s the other way around.”
Those coming to experience the “Shrub” are in for a rare experience, according to Lippman: “Imagine landing on a planet that’s ruled by another planet, and the people in the nightclubs are making fun of their dominators. The jokes aren’t supposed to be even-handed–just true. My mother told me: Stand up for the underdog.”
Next on stage was Dave Lippman, a musical satirist of singular wit and timing. In Dave’s routine the music takes a back seat to this often brilliant, always hilarious narratives. He delivers refreshing bits of clarity and reason in a commentary on a culture that is supersaturated with brainless ad campaigns and ludicrous political dogma, where Jimi Hendrix sells World Wide Web sites and models who don’t even need training bras are the apotheosis of feminine beauty. Perhaps I begin to project, but Dave Lippman’s material does let any sane person revel in the fact that at least there’s one guy out there who finds the American “Cult of Consumerism” as ridiculous as you do and he’s making a living poking the mega corp establishment right in its already blind eye. With songs like “I Hate Walmart” and “The Stocks They Are Exchanging,” Dave entertains as he dissembles and gives us all back our sanity, if only for a moment.
Ellen Arthur, Spectator, Raleigh, NC, 11/14/96