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Release: Aug. 18, 2000

Political song satirist Mark Russell performs at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Mark Russell, the piano-playing political satirist whose 25 years of specials have made him a top-rated fixture on public television, will leap into the middle of the heated campaign season with two performances in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium --
8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10.

The performances, less than two months before the November national elections, will offer Russell's up-to-the-minute skewering of the political issues and personalities of the moment.

Russell got his start in the mid-'50s, fresh out of the Marine Corps, when he got a job as pianist at a Capitol Hill hotel bar. He made up songs about the customers, many of whom were politicians, and his popularity quickly outgrew the bar.

He became the resident comedian at Washington's Shoreham Hotel for 20 years until his humorous takes on the Watergate scandal brought him to national attention.

One of the secrets of his on-going success is that his pointed but graceful humor is not partisan -- in the tradition of Mark Twain and Will Rogers. As Phil Kloer of the Atlanta Constitution put it, "he hands it out equally to Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals."

TV Guide has called Russell "the funniest man on television," but he disagrees. "No, the funniest guys are always on C-Span." In fact he claims that many of his jokes leap off the newspaper pages and practically write themselves.

People constantly marvel at his wealth of fresh material and frequently ask "Do you have any writers?" He's always quick to admit, "Oh, yes, I have 535 of them -- 100 in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives!"

In fact, he finds so much humor in current political events that he has enough left over from his performances and CDs to fill a regular Los Angeles Times column, carried by more than a hundred newspapers across the country.

And now, with presidential and vice-presidential nominees slugging it out as well, who knows what Russell may find to fillet in his Hancher performances?

Tickets for Mark Russell are $30, $28 and $24. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and Zone 2 and 3 tickets are available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students

may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial
(319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

The corporate sponsors of the Mark Russell performances are Country Bancorporation and Kay Bernau, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Learn more about Mark Russell on the World Wide Web at <>. For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.