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Hexagon returns with political comedy variety show ‘Tweet Land of Liberty’

Hexagon volunteers perform a sketch from their annual political comedy variety show. (Mark E. Bender)

WASHINGTON — It’s become an annual tradition in Northwest D.C. for the past 64 years, as local volunteers put together a variety show of political comedy ripe for the nation’s capital.

But this year’s Hexagon event will be particularly unique, simply because the year in politics has been very different from years past, hence the 2018 theme: “Tweet Land of Liberty.”

“We have a president who’s made life interesting for everyone,” Hexagon’s Gene Tighe told WTOP. “We all enjoy all of the material he’s been giving us. You watch a little ‘Saturday Night Live’ and you get a taste of that, but we’re going to go in that direction. … I don’t know for sure yet who is playing Mr. Trump, but I’m sure we will have someone who’s going to be good.”

The show runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in March at Woodrow Wilson High School.

“I can’t imagine we won’t be talking about some of the things that have been going on with the Russians, some of the folks on The Hill and the hard work they’ve done on the tax bill … DACA, the Dreamers, all that stuff,” Tighe said. “One thing Hexagon prides itself on is taking recent material and injecting it into the show. So if you see someone make a name for himself, you’ll probably see them in our show, including the first family and members of the Hill staff.”

These sketches are written over the course of the year by local creatives.

“It’s a political spoof, all original material,” Tighe said. “Starting way back springtime and early summertime, there are writers’ meetings, some of whom have been writing for Hexagon for decades. [They] provide really good material. We take it over, collaborate and put together something that’s fun, nice and pokes a little fun across the board on both sides of the aisle.”

The final cast is made up of about 30 volunteers with varying day jobs.

“We have folks that do federal government work all over the place and several lawyers,” Tighe said. ““In fact, Joe Kaplan, our president, is a lawyer who works on federal cases here in Washington. We have folks that are retired, that are military … all fulfilling their daydreams.”

Many of these folks had creative backgrounds before entering their eventual careers.

“Most are people who have a little something inside them they want to share with somebody else, [thinking], ‘I know how to sing, I know how to talk, I’ve been on stage and I enjoy the heck out of it,'” Tighe said. “We’ve had people come from all sorts of theater backgrounds, including those who have done professional work in ballet, opera, motion-picture work.”

In between, you’ll see “Newsbreaks” a la “Weekend Update” segments on “SNL.” Instead of Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey, the anchor team consists of local news figures such as WTOP’s Bruce Alan, Joan Jones, George Wallace, Shawn Anderson and Hillary Howard, as well as other outlets with NBC 4’s Doreen Gentzler, Fox-5’s Tony Perkins and Bloomberg’s Amy Morris.

With so much community involvement, it’s hard to believe that it all started with just three people back in 1955, before expanding to six performers — hence the name Hexagon.

“There were [three] folks at the Princeton Triangle Club who got together and decided to do a show and have fun with politics,” Tighe said. “They had such a great time and gave the money to the Red Cross. Then, they got three ladies to join them, so there were six of them and said, ‘You know? Let’s call it Hexagon.’ Now Hexagon is incorporated and it’s been going ever since.”

This year’s charity is The Grassroot Project, which will receive 98 percent of the proceeds.

“[It] was started by a Rhodes Scholar at Georgetown named Tyler Spencer,” Tighe said. “Tyler went off to Oxford and came back and decided, ‘I’ve got lots of kids here suffering from HIV.’ Trying to steer them away from that is his drive. He’s got a really nice organization; they train their people and reach out to middle schoolers and try to steer them with student athletes.”

The remaining 2 percent of proceeds will go to keep the nonprofit Hexagon operating.

“We’re the nonprofit version of The Capitol Steps [comedy troupe],” Tighe said. “I’ve had a number of people come up to me and say, ‘I’ve been to Capitol Steps every year, but I come to see Hexagon because a lot of your stuff is a little better than [Capitol Steps] in some ways.'”

Tickets cost $30. More details can be found here. Listen to the full chat with Gene Tighe below:

WTOP's Jason Fraley chats with Hexagon's Gene Tighe (Full Interview)

Jason Fraley

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