The show was on stage from 11 am through 1 pm, with Franken speaking to a parade of local lefty pundits and Democratic politicians, such as Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, State Rep. Mark Pocan, and Gov. Jim Doyle (via phone). The theater was standing-room only, with nearly one thousand officially ticketed attendees. "I think we packed the place," says Brian Turaney, who is the program director for The MIC.Yeah, it was really cold. Drawing a big crowd for a 3-hour radio show is pretty impressive. But this is Madison! We're not sissies about the cold, and we love the rousing lefty politics.
The live-broadcast was well-received by the politically-liberal crowd. "It's a great event whenever Al comes to town," Turaney explains. "It's great, especially on a cold winter day, to get together and see how many people are like-minded. It's great to see how many people came out and how happy everybody was."
The crowd is very enthusiastic, applauding regularly and excitedly at Franken's punchlines and rhetorical flourishes made by the political guests.That's what ever comedian wants to hear: how loud the crowd ... clapped.
The age range of the crowd is diverse, ranging from the myspace Generation to the Greatest Generation. It is also overwhelmingly white and middle class (at least in superficial appearance), certainly reflective of the radio station's listenership. This makes sense, given the need for many audience members to take (at least) several hours out of their work day to attend. In terms of general appearance, conservative naysayers envisioning "hippies" or whatever the fantasy du jour is (as is often the case among those negatively commenting on liberal gatherings of this type) have little to work with.Is that what you conservative naysayers envision? Well, at least we know that (liberal?) journalists envision conservative naysayers envisioning Franken's audience as somehow rotten-looking.
It sounds as though most of the show was trotting out the local politicians. Franken is a radio genius if he made that interesting. I remember how Bruce Springsteen -- that denizen of Franken's iPod -- reacted when he had to share the stage with Governor Doyle: "I think this will be the governor's last experience as my opening act."
UPDATE: I'm mixing up the Barrymore and the Orpheum! Sorry. The Barrymore is way over on the East Side and would have required a car ride.