Thursday, September 29 , 2016, 6:50 pm | Fair 72º

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Jeff Moehlis: Ventura Gets Kinky as Friedman Delivers the Full Package

During his introduction to the song, “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed,” at Zoey’s Cafe in Ventura on Dec. 9, Kinky Friedman told of performing the same song with the Texas Jewboys in 1973 at the Univerity of Buffalo. Apparently a “group of cranked-up lesbians” was not amused by it, and stormed the stage to fight (successfully, he added) with the band.

That song was why Friedman was selected for the Male Chauvinist Pig of the Year Award from the National Organization for Women in 1974, an “honor” that Friedman clearly takes pride in. Why? Because he thinks that political correctness is misguided, especially when it gets in the way of a good joke. Later in the show, he noted that un-PC comedians like Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce couldn’t become stars if they started out nowadays.

Nothing was sacred in Friedman’s show. The opening song, “Before All Hell Breaks Loose,” has the lyrics “What kind of rubbers did Joseph use / Before all Hell broke loose.” He later joked that the “Yom Kippur Clipper” he rode in during his unsuccessful 2006 campaign for Texas governor was a Jewish Cadillac that “stops on a dime, and picks it up.”

Then there’s his signature song, “They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore,” which closed the show. This tells the story of a confrontation with a racist and includes gems like “We Jews believe it was Santa Claus that killed Jesus Christ,” plus some other lyrics that make a 21st-century audience squirm.

Perhaps the funniest song, also with a religious theme of sorts, was “Men’s Room, L.A.,” which addresses the unlikely scenario in which a person is in a public restroom stall that they discover is out of toilet paper; however, a piece of paper with a picture of Jesus was left there by someone else. He asks, “Lord what would you do / If you were me and I was you / Take a chance / Save your pants or your soul?”

Friedman’s between-song remarks added to the fun. He said, “I’m 68 years old, but I read at the 70-year-old level,” and “When I die, I’m to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair.” He also expressed support for term limits for politicians: “one in office, one in prison.”

Also on the program was the amusing children’s song, “Ol’ Ben Lucas,” that Friedman wrote when he was 11, and serious songs such as the “only pro-choice country song” called “Rapid City, South Dakota,” and “The Ballad of Kevin Barry” about an Irish Catholic martyr from the 1916 Easter Rising as remembered from an old Paul Robeson record.

Partway through, the show paused for an auction for a gift pack that included a bottle of Kinky Friedman’s Man In Black Tequila, which he described as “Mexican mouthwash” and said was “not your father’s tequila. This is your grandfather’s gardener’s tequila.” It’s good stuff, as I can attest to thanks to a free shot at the bar before the show. The auction was to benefit Friedman’s Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, a haven for stray or abused animals he co-founded.

And just before the end of the show, Friedman read a truly touching chapter from his book Heroes of a Texas Childhood called “The Navigator,” about his father, Tom Friedman. (In case you didn’t know, Friedman is also an accomplished author.)

Friedman might make you laugh, and he might make you cry. He might even make you storm the stage to try to get him to shut up. Not everyone will go for his brand of humor, but I think almost everyone would agree: for better or worse, they ain’t makin’ ‘em like Kinky Friedman anymore.

Setlist

Before All Hell Breaks Loose
Nashville Casualty and Life
Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed
Ol’ Ben Lucas
Autograph
Homo Erectus
- auction -
Rapid City, South Dakota
Men’s Room, L.A.
Wild Man from Borneo
Waitret, Please, Waitret
The Ballad of Kevin Barry
- reading from Heroes of a Texas Childhood - They Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore

Click here for a related interview with Kinky Friedman.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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