Will Ferrell has made his career playing cocky boobs who aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are. And in the actor’s mind, George W. Bush is nothing but Talladega Nights’ Ricky Bobby with a red phone. For nearly 90 minutes in You’re Welcome America. A Final Night With George W. Bush, Ferrell, as Bush, squints and struts his way through a monologue reflecting on the former president’s early life and White House years. The (mostly) one-man show is crude, often hilarious, rarely incisive, and wickedly partisan. When ”Bush” recalls shooting wrist rockets at a stray cat strapped to a propane tank while he was a ”young, precocious 30-year-old” in Midland, Tex., it makes Oliver Stone’s W. look like a Man From Hope hagiography.
The show (written by Ferrell and directed by his regular partner, Adam McKay) earns the biggest laughs when it’s most absurdly fictitious: An extended riff on a plan to train wild monkeys to shoot spear guns in Iraq is blindingly funny, as is a romantic interlude with a short-skirted, aggressively grinding Condoleezza Rice (a raucous Pia Glenn, who seems to have borrowed Gene Simmons’ tongue). But many of the jabs aimed at actual events — the 2000 election, the ”Mission Accomplished” speech, Katrina — feel like sketches that have been done better and far earlier on The Daily Show: We know, we know, Brownie didn’t do a heckuva job. And picturing Dick Cheney being buggered by a goat devil may be a vivid image, but underneath the brimstone it’s still the old ”Cheney is evil” trope.
While Ferrell’s comic timing is flawless, the timing of the show isn’t. His goofball tone indicates he wants you to walk away feeling better about the fact that Bush is no longer in power. But in light of America’s current dire straits, reliving the ex-president’s greatest misses may only make Ferrell’s target audience — people who think Bush is laughable — leave feeling worse. (Tickets: 800-432-7250) B