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Tulsa Gridiron

Arts Scene: Tulsa Gridiron

Posted: Sunday, February 28, 2016 12:00 am

By JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer

Subtlety, thy name is not Tulsa Gridiron.

For nearly 80 years, the Tulsa Gridiron has been lampooning and lambasting local luminaries and lunkheads with satirical songs and skits that skewer city politics and national pop culture.

This year’s show bears the gently nuanced title, “The Farce Awakens, or Ding-A-Ling Brothers Bynum & Bartlett Circus.”

Serious art, this ain’t. Good-natured silliness, on the other hand, that’s to be expected.

Rebecca Ungerman returns as director, with Jordan Hehl and Christy Lynn Stalcup serving as music directors. Actress Heather Richetto-Rumley will be appearing as the Interlocutor and hostess, with a cast of of more than 30 performers — or reasonable facsimiles thereof.

On the purely positive side, proceeds from the Tulsa Gridiron help to fund scholarships for the next generation of journalists.

Performances: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, 101 E. First St.

Tickets: $30-$80 individual seating, table of eight, $400-$600. 918-520-0934,


Tulsa Gridiron

Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 6:52 am, Sun Feb 2, 2014.

By JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer |

Politics at every level of government has been as a source of humor practically from the first time someone said, “Let’s put it to a vote.”

Each year, the Tulsa Gridiron shifts through the mountains of mirth-inducing mischief that is local, state and national politics, tosses in some swipes at popular culture, sets the whole thing to parodies of familiar and obscure songs, affixes a long and laboriously punning title to it, then flings it onto a stage before a willing populace.

This year’s edition of the Tulsa Gridiron is titled “Government Ain’t Twerking: or, I See Your Government Shutdown and Raise You the Debt Limit.”

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday at the Tulsa PAC, 110 E. Second St. Tickets are $27.50-$60. 918-596-7111,


Tulsa Gridiron to skewer the news at annual show

Sunday, March 18, 2012

“I can see clearly now that Terry’s gone.”

This line, sung by an actor portraying Mayor Dewey Bartlett and referencing the resignation of the mayor’s chief of staff, is among lyrics that will debut at the 2012 Tulsa Gridiron show Friday and Saturday at the PAC. Bartlett is only one of many subjects at the annual show that skewers politicians at all levels, as well as other high-profile individuals.

Tulsa’s City Council, Oprah, the Italian cruise ship captain, President Obama, Mitt Romney, the Kardashians and “Justin Bieber’s baby mama” are all among those who will “make an appearance” at the show, said director Rebecca Ungerman.

Ungerman, a local jazz singer, has been involved with the show for about eight years, serving as director of the past five productions. Ungerman said directing the show is like “driving a stagecoach with a team of 20 horses and no reins.” ”It’s so much fun,” she said.

The show takes on a sketch comedy format, reminiscent of “Saturday Night Live,” and uses it to make fun of “newsmakers of all sorts,” according to its website,

Or, in Ungerman’s words: “We take all the things that are pissing us off and that we’ve been talking about on Facebook, and we put it to music and put it on stage.” Tulsa Gridiron’s mission is to support free speech and political and social commentary, and proceeds from the show help fund scholarships for journalism and communications students.

This year’s show is called “Mock-u-py Tulsa, or Shakes on the Plains,” a reference to the Occupy movement and this year’s earthquakes. And different this year will be the show’s broader range. ”Writers can attest that I was very challenging on song selection this year,” Ungerman said. “While our audience may not be the youngest in town, we’ve tried to up our variety.”

Ungerman has limited the number of songs from the ’60s and ’70s in order to let in some more current music. ”Taylor Swift is debuting this year,” she said. Ungerman said there is something in the show to appeal to everyone, including people throughout the political spectrum. ”We have skewered left and right equally and deservedly,” she said.

And even if you’re not a political buff and “think the issues are all stupid,” Ungerman promises you’ll get a laugh. ”It’s just one of the best nights of musical comedy entertainment in Tulsa.”

Tim Moore has been a part of the Tulsa Gridiron tradition for 39 years. Moore’s father directed the show for 25 years, and when Moore was 12, his father asked him if he’d like to help out. ”We were probably breaking child labor laws,” Moore joked.

But Moore agreed and began painting props, keeping inventory and doing other stagehand duties. One of the most interesting tasks Moore remembers working on was a 900-foot Jesus backdrop for an Oral Roberts scene. Now, at the 79th annual show, Moore is the technical director. And things have changed since he first got involved in 1973. ”It was an all-male cast,” Moore remembers.

He also remembers the many moves the show made before settling at its current home at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, including the Mayo Hotel, the Scottish Rite building, the Bernsen Center, First Presbyterian Church and the Convention Center.

The format of the show itself has also shifted, Moore said. ”They’re heavier on music now, whereas the old scripts were mostly dialogue with some music in it,” he said. But the things that keep Moore coming back each year have remained the same.

“Just being around the people who do this is fun,” he said. “The performers, they crack each other up.”

And the purpose of the show – furthering free speech and helping raise money for journalism and communications scholarships – is one Moore believes in. ”I think that’s rewarding,” he said.

Tulsa Gridiron presents
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Tulsa Performing Arts Center, Liddy Doenges Theatre, 110 E. Second St.

Tickets: $25-$50, available at or 918-596-7111.

Nour Habib 918-581-8369 Nour Habib 918-581-8369
Associated Images:



Tulsa Gridiron Donates to TCC Journalism Scholarship Program.

The Tulsa Gridiron recently donated $1,000 to the Tulsa Community College journalism scholarship program during a preview of the 2010 Gridiron show held at the Tulsa Press Club.  Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa Gridiron chair (left), presents the check to Jerry Goodwin, a TCC Journalism professor, who accepted the donation on behalf of TCC.

Proceeds from the Tulsa Gridiron show are used to support scholarship programs for journalism and communications students at local colleges and universities.

The 2010 Tulsa Gridiron show, entitled, “Dewey Dare? Or, Laughter is the Best Public Option!” will be performed March 12 and 13 at the Liddy Doenges Theatre in the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.



Nothing off limits for Gridiron roasting

by: KAREN SHADE World Scene Writer
Sunday, March 07, 2010
3/7/2010 7:11:21 AM

The “Underwear Bomber,” health care reform, Tiger Woods and Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. — no person or topic is too sacred for a good old-fashioned grilling in front of a live audience.

These subjects and more from the last 12 months have occupied the mind of Rebecca Ungerman, Tulsa blues singer.

“If you’d asked me a week and a half ago, I would’ve said I was all about this Jewish album I just released,” Ungerman said. “Now, I’m all about Tulsa Gridiron.”

“The Jewish Album” will have to wait until the Tulsa Gridiron 2010 makes funny faces at politics, pop culture, celebrity, scandals and everything coming across the news wire. The satire-laden “Dewey Dare? Or, Laughter is the Best Public Option” swings both left and right.

“I hate to say it’s one of Tulsa’s best kept secrets,” Ungerman said. “We’re trying to fix that because your average Tulsan hasn’t heard about the Tulsa Gridiron. That’s awful for something that’s been going on over 80 years. It’s such a hell of a show.”

Well-known entertainers mix with civilians better known for things other than their work on stage, but it’s just a formula Ungerman and others behind the annual bash like when it comes to musical parody.

Gridiron, she added, is Tulsa’s version of Capitol Steps, the comedy troupe out of Washington, D.C., that puts a sharp spin on politics with words and lyrics set to popular songs. The Gridiron prods plenty at national affairs, but local politicians, personalities and topics also end up on the hot plate.

This year’s Gridiron will feature Joe Kelly, making his debut in the show as the interlocutor. Also look for Natasha Ball, Darell Christopher, John Cory, Pam Crosby, Olivia Duhon, Virginia Harrison, Bob Hendrick, Kathleen Kennedy, Sharon King-Davis, Kathy LaFortune, Kerry Malone (doing double duty as producer), Rebecca Marks, D.J. Morrow Ingram, Heather Richetto-Rumley,

Meredith Lee Wegner and Ungerman.

The original dialogue and song lyrics were written by volunteers, including chief author Randy Krehbiel of the Tulsa World and Mimi Gooden.

Ungerman doesn’t want to give everything away, but she will confess to finding the perfect Kate Goslin (“Jon and Kate Plus 8″) wig, that Ball in glasses is a dead ringer for Sarah Palin and that some songs are still in progress as the Tulsa Police and Fraternal Order of Police negotiations continue.

The only thing that really hurts is having to edit songs to fit the time slot.

“When you have over 30 numbers with over 30 people in the cast (and crew),” Ungerman said, “it’s really quick, so you can do all the wonderful numbers.”

Tulsa Gridiron 2010

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: Liddy Doenges Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Second St.

Tickets: $25 for general admission, $50 for table seating; 596-7111,

Karen Shade 581-8334