After attending a performance of Winning the Future (an evening of original sketches and songs), I found myself thinking about Mark Twain, who wrote a short story called “Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven.” In that story, Twain suggested that the most talented people throughout history are never recognized on Earth, only in Heaven. He wrote, “The greatest military genius our world ever produced was a bricklayer from somewhere back of Boston” and a tailor, “Billings, from Tennessee, wrote poetry that Homer and Shakespeare couldn’t begin to come up to.” In Twain’s universe, the greatest minds aren’t “rewarded according to their deserts on Earth.” If he’s right, that would be a terrible shame. Fortunately, you have an opportunity to see three of the most talented, and unknown, performers on the planet while they are still alive.
At a time when Donald Trump has taken hyperbole to record-breaking extremes, I understand if you think I am exaggerating. I am not. Attending Winning the Future was like having tantric sex while eating a chocolate sundae—it is overwhelming in the best possible way.
The performers—Robin Holloway, Kate Chavez, and Lindsey Hope Pearlman—met at the London International School of Performing arts, but the intelligence of their material suggests they met at the London School of Economics. It is fitting that they began their collaboration while attending university in London, since that is how Monty Python began their legendary careers. While they share Python’s insight and intelligence, they surpass their British counterparts with a level of musical talent that is equaled only by the greatest pop stars. Imagine if Katy Perry had a PhD in political science and wrote accordingly. When you leave the theatre, you find yourself humming tunes that are not only memorable for their musicality, but even more for their social impact.
It would be easy to focus on the collective political insight of these three gifted performers, but that would mean ignoring the sheer delight of the comedy and music that lifts this experience above mere social commentary. Imagine putting John Oliver, ABBA, and Lin Manuel Miranda into a blender—that is Winning the Future.
If their goal was simply to write infectious songs that leave you smiling uncontrollably, they would have succeeded, but they do so much more—they take complicated (and important) ideas, and turn them into laughter and melody. Their work would be important at any time and any place, but during this particular year, when there is a rather interesting election going on, their work exceeds importance and attains to necessity.
Attending “Winning the Future” should be required before anyone is allowed to vote (especially fans of third-party candidates, who would be properly edified by their song about Ralph Nader).
Among their many virtues, it must be noted that they are equal opportunity offenders—they take on Donald Trump, Barak Obama, self-satisfied philanthropists, and self-righteous vegans with the same energy. They are not partisans or proselytizers—their only agenda is to say something important while entertaining the shit out of their audience.
If you miss the opportunity to see them this weekend, and Mark Twain is right, you will have a chance to catch them in sixty years when they are headliners at the biggest theatre in Heaven. Just to be safe, I suggest you see them now.
Winning the Future through November 6 at the Adobe Rose Theatre.