“The Lion King” has “Hakuna Matata,” a catchy reggae song that means no worries. Brave New Workshop has “Covfefe,” a syncopated President Trump-inspired number that means ... well, anything that you or our Twitter-happy president might want it to mean.
Performed by ensemble member Ryan Nelson, who has Trump’s scowl, diction and hand gestures down pat, the song captures many of the things that are fetching about “Guardians of the Fallacy: Executive Disorder,” the Workshop’s frothy and irrepressible new sketch comedy revue that pokes gleeful fun at Trumpworld.
The number comes out of a spelling bee in which an immigrant named Ashwini (played with innocence by the versatile Taj Ruler) is vying for the championship. There’s a lot riding on her performance — including the possibility of deportation — when she’s confronted with “covfefe,” that term added to the English language in a Trump tweet. Ashwini asks for the usual help (origin, pronunciation, definition) before Nelson’s Trump sings his syncopated response.
“Guardians” sends up the current moment with wit and style, though at times it confronts a challenge that other comedians have discovered in this target-rich environment: Sometimes it’s hard to compete with reality. Parts of “Guardians” already feel like yesterday’s news, especially in an age when social media are constantly generating new memes. (Cast members address this point, almost apologetically, at the outset).
For example, one risible skit involves Trump aide Kellyanne Conway — played by Denzel Belin, a black man, in a blonde wig. But it does not use flash cards, which Conway employed on TV Wednesday to defend the administration against charges of collusion. The show does include a “Weekend Update”-style segment to inject the latest jaw-dropping developments out of Washington.
Directed smoothly by Caleb McEwen with musical accompaniment by Jon Pumper, “Guardians” is a fairly cohesive piece as far as BNW shows go, with a few bright and entertaining through-lines to tie the show together. One, set in the future, involves a tour of the Trump presidential library (representing all three Trump administrations). Lauren Anderson serves as tour guide, and she brooks no foolishness (although she welcomes fools).
Anderson also plays an I-told-you-so Hillary Clinton who, while walking in the woods, occasionally takes a bite out of a squirrel. The cast is rounded out by Tom Reed, who has a potent cameo as Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Brave New Workshop has been making Twin Cities audiences laugh for 60 years with sendups of pop culture and the high and mighty. “Guardians” gives you plenty to chuckle about, even if, for some, it’s only to keep you from crying.