The Daily Show of Dallas

With beer and jokes, Josh Kumler is doing the impossible: getting young people interested in local politics.

For the uninitiated, describe Bar Politics With Josh Kumler.

It is a live, local fake news show addressing real issues in bars.

It’s not issues that pertain only to bars, though.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Issues of local politics that we talk about in bars. We move around the city, doing shows in bars.  

How many shows have you done in Addison so far?

None in Addison. Yet. So far they all have been in Dallas.

There’s a lot going on in Addison. You could do a show at Duke’s Original Roadhouse. I think they are into politics there.

Okay. Huh. 

Where did the idea for Bar Politics come from?

I have always envied the careers of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. That was always something I wanted to do. But the inspiration for doing a localized version of that was learning about the City Council elections that we had in May. I’ve lived in Dallas for five years, but I was in school at SMU for four of them. I had just moved into my own apartment, and I was building an awareness of these issues, like the whole Trinity toll road situation. I ride my bike in the river basin, so I knew these issues could have a huge effect on my day-to-day life. I better try to have some sort of effect on it. And once you start doing research on these things, the material writes itself. 

Have any council members sent you suggested jokes or skits? That sounds like something Mark Clayton would do.

Not yet. [Dallas Observer columnist] Jim Schutze did send us something that was really funny. The concept of the gag was that we’d have someone play him, mumbling like a crazed Captain Ahab about his white whale, the Trinity toll road. I said, “This is great. You should come on and do this.” He’s like, “Oh, no, I’m not a performer.”

The show makes use of impressions. Do you do any?

On our last show, we did something we’re calling Bar Politics Exact Quote Puppet Theater. And I did a number of impressions, some more faithful than others. I did a [Councilman] Philip Kingston speech about segregation. [launches into a hysterical, spot-on Kingston impression that you really should hear]

Drinking beer is part of the show—audience and performers alike. Have you ever put a few too many down the hatch and let things get a little too loosey-goosey onstage?

You gotta be very careful. Hopefully I’m not ruining the magic, but I personally make a point of not drinking at all before the show, and then once I’m up there, I have my pint of beer on the desk, which is a Golden Opportunity, if I can get it. 

Outside the show, you are an actual actor. What have you been in that I might have heard of?

I was the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at Casa Mañana. I’ve done South Pacific at Lyric Stage. Most recently, I was in a play called Dry Land, which was put on by Upstart Productions in a warehouse in the Trinity Groves area. My dear friend, who is also a contributor to the show, Sarah Hamilton, directed it. 

You’ve said that a big part of getting twentysomethings interested in local politics is offering even the slightest chance of sexual congress. Has that actually worked out at any of the shows?

First of all, that was something that Jim Schutze said and I agreed with. Then he wrote an article about the show, and it was made to seem like I’d said it. I can’t speak for the personal lives of any of my esteemed attendees of the show. I would like to think that that is happening. The conversations that happen afterward are the most important part, the relationships formed between people as they talk about how to take action on the issues that we shed light on. 

That sounds like horrible foreplay.

People finding out that they are passionate about the same local issues could definitely lead to congress. 

Bar Politics typically does a show on the first Wednesday of each month. Check its Facebook page for upcoming locations. 

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