Harry Shearer, who made his name on Saturday Night Live and as a writer and star of This Is Spinal Tap, plays the ultimate villain — Mr. Burns — on The Simpsons (he’s also the voice of Ned Flanders, among others). But tomorrow at the Slipper Room in the heart of Hell Square, he’ll discuss a still greater villain, President Richard Nixon, whom he plays on a series that you can now watch online.
After a run on British television, Nixon’s the One is now available on YouTube (the pilot episode, released Oct. 21, is above and a new episode is being released every week on My Damn Channel). The series faithfully recreates White House conversations that were captured by Nixon’s secret voice-activated recording system. While those tapes are best known for the “smoking gun” portion that made it clear Nixon intended to block the Watergate investigation, Shearer goes a little deeper to reenact portions in which the President engages in awkward banter with, say, dairy industry lobbyists.
If you listen to Shearer’s political commentary and satire podcast, Le Show, you know his voice has “a certain soothing effect” (Nixon’s description of milk during his rambling small-talk with the dairy lobbyists). Likewise, his nuanced impersonation of Tricky Dick behind closed doors is pretty spell-binding, even as it degenerates into unseemly talk about “the rich Jews,” “these black kids,” and other targets of the president’s famous grumpiness, vindictiveness and paranoia.
At the Slipper Room tomorrow at 8 p.m., Shearer will show clips from the show and share some of the stories behind them. It’s safe to say he won’t be wearing his Nixon getup (if you need inspiration for Halloween, see a slideshow of that painstaking transformation here). Tickets ($30 for seats, $20 if you’re standing) are still available at Slipper Room’s website.