The skilled crooners of The Iraq Pack are killing it with Live from Das Vegas: killing good taste, that is. The mood of the room doesn't fare much better. The main act of this shock parade is Frank Sanazi, a blend of Hitler and Frank Sinatra, assisted by Dean Stalin, Saddami Davis, Jr. and Osama Bin Crosby.
These four "crooners of the apocalypse" present a tribute to the Rat Pack that's wrong on practically every level. Except for one: they can sing. Painful jokes about Air Malaysia, genocides and the Holocaust gradually numb our sensitivities until after half an hour we can be shocked no more. To the extent that even a game of "who's the biggest mass murderer" becomes sort of fun. Some jokes are spun out far too long, like the one where Saddam's "weapon of mass destruction" hangs out of his trousers for minutes on end. It's not funny, just embarrassing.
And then, suddenly, the show takes a different turn. Sanazi's 'Strangers on My Flight', in which he describes the fear many feel when someone with a beard or turban boards their flight, forces us to examine our own prejudices. He cleverly demonstrates how we're all afraid of otherness – the very same angst exploited by the dictators on stage to get into power. It's unpleasant to watch, but if The Iraq Pack makes us think a little differently about difference, than maybe all the painful jokes were worth it.