In 2011 a new musical opened on Broadway that had people talking – and the awards flowing: Nine Tony Awards including Best Musical; the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award; and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. People raved, the critics raved, and I – who’d loved musicals since I was a kid – promised myself that if the show ever came to San Diego, I would see it.
The show was The Book of Mormon, and it came to San Diego three years ago. It came, I saw, and I was disgusted.
And now, it’s returning.
I knew the show was from the creators of South Park, and I’d seen that TV program once. I thought it was an egregious a waste of time, but I understood why the bathroom humor appealed to my 14-year old nephew.
So I remembered South Park, but I was certain that the creators of The Book of Mormon would have cleaned up their act – literally – for Broadway. You’re not going to garner prestigious awards for bathroom humor, are you?
Apparently you are. A lot of awards for a lot of bathroom humor, including a song about defecating in the river, drinking the river water, getting sick, defecating in the river again, drinking the water again and – you get the idea.
The show’s creators don’t limit themselves to bathroom humor, however; early on we learn that in the African village where the show takes place, most of the people have AIDS. There’s a thigh-slapper. And how about that song, Hasa Diga Eebowai, which translates into Fuck You, God. You’ll walk out of the theater singing that one, for sure.
And yes, there’s more.
Like the jokes about cutting off a clitoris – that’s always amusing. It’s referred to as “female circumcision” which is as inaccurate as it is offensive. Then there’s the war lord who makes several appearances and goes by the name of “Butt-Fucking Naked.”
There’s the dance number where men run around wearing three-foot-long rubber penises, though I never figured out why. And the village doctor who announces early on that “I have maggots in my scrotum.” He says it a second and then a third time during the first act, and because that’s so uproariously funny, we got to hear it again as the show’s closing line.
Understand: I’m not averse to raunchy humor, four-letter words or so-stupid-they’re-funny jokes. I love satire. And if someone wants to poke fun at religion – I’m in.
So I don’t dismiss The Book of Mormon as 100% disgusting. The show has terrific energy, great singers and dancers, and some of the lyrics are catchy and clever. But all that is good is overwhelmed by the vulgarity, crudity, and just plain inanity.
Never have so many paid so much for so little entertainment: In my case, two tickets, a whopping $345. It appears the same two seats this time around will cost and even more whopping $450.
I’m assuming the show hasn’t changed, so when the The Book of Mormon returns in July, do yourself a favor: Save your money.
And just watch a couple episodes of South Park.