Car Talk: Okay. So, what inspired a musical about SUVs?
"SUV: The Musical!" is inspired by America's obsession with these hulking road warriors. But it's more than just a raucous send-up of our nation's car culture, it is a biting satire of a super-sized country where bigger is always better and people genuinely get offended at the mere suggestion that they should be a tad bit more fuel efficient. When I wrote for Newsweek online, I often devoted my weekly column to SUVs. You could not imagine the hate mail! So many Americans believe that burning as much fuel as they want is a birthright.
Car Talk: You've written a musical about a boy who designs an SUV to impress a girl. Does he have feeling of ... how do we put this? ... inadequacy?
No, just the opposite. Our evil SUV designer, Dick Johnson of Behemoth Motors, is the supremely confident American ... almost Trumpian in his belief that everything he does is correct. He designs big SUVs because, why, Americans want their SUVs. And who is Dick Johnson to stand in the way of what the people want?
Car Talk: Tell us about the plot... without spoiling it. Is there a rollover? Are cell phones involved?
Cell phones? No, that's our next musical, "Cell Phones: A Love Story." But "SUV: The Musical!" centers on Dick Johnson's plan to market the world's biggest SUV, the Behemoth Destroyer. But to get it on the road, Dick calls in a few favors from his old friend, an oil-dealing Saudi sheik. And all the sheik wants in return is for gas prices to rise to $10 a gallon. Meanwhile, Dick is being pursued by our hero environmentalist Max Blank, who, thanks to a double-dealing Crash Test Dummy, may finally have the goods on Dick's unholy alliance with the sheik (and he may end up with Dick's wife, Sarah).
Car Talk: What do you drive?
I ride a subway. I do own a Mazda 626, but most of the mileage I put on it comes from moving it across the street on alternate-side-parking days.
Car Talk: Are you worried about an irate Hummer driver hearing of this? You know, there are many "unfortunate" accidents every day.
I have three words for Hummer drivers: Bring it on! Look, I'm not insisting on everyone driving solar-powered cars, but can't we agree as a nation that a little more fuel efficiency could really go a long way towards giving us the moral high ground on global energy issues? Whatever happened to shared sacrifice (not that driving a Prius is a sacrifice). Is anyone in this country capable of tightening his own belt?
Car Talk: Can we be the understudies for the two crash test dummies?
Sure! We do have two immediate openings for crash test dummy understudies. But, one of you is overqualified, and, to be perfectly honest, one of you is underqualified. I'll let you guys figure out who's who.
SUV: The Musical! is at the Village Theater, 158 Bleecker Street, New York City from August 13-27. Here's more information.
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