“We are going to run through an obstacle course today that takes us on a tour of the United States of America; the more guns you acquire along the way, the safer and more American you become, do you understand, Keegan?” Billy Eichner shouts at the beginning of a just-released, tragicomic obstacle course clip from truTV’s Billy on the Street, performed this time by Keegan-Michael Key.
As they often do, Eichner’s obstacle course manipulates the life metaphor of the otherwise completely futile activity reserved for shetland sheepdogs and grudging middle schoolers — overcoming challenges thrown at you as you venture forward through time and space — for acrobatic comic (and here, political satirical) value. For while normally one is met on an obstacle course with numerous…obstacles, the path towards possessing a military barracks’ (or, you know, mass’ shooters’ basement’s) worth of weapons is rather elementary.
For example, Key almost has to go through the arduous obstacle of removing his picture from a bulletin board of photos on the terror watchlist — but then Eichner, prompted by the NRA’s mascot, reminds him that he can skip this obstacle, as Congress — lobbied by the NRA — rejected a bill that would have made it harder for people on the terror watchlist to get guns in this country. Other stops on their transamerican (literal) arms race include Mt. Rushmore, where one can simply withdraw a gun from George Washington’s nose (well, at least in the Billy on the Street version of Mt. Rushmore), Kansas (where conceal and carry laws permit Key to aim a gun at the characters 0f the Wizard of Oz), Alaska, where law permits the purchase of guns in bulk, and where Key therefore gets a whole gun-piñata full of little guns, and more!
Speaking with Vulture in a just-shared cover story, Eichner talked about both the responsibilities of comedians — and the limits of comedy as a political tool — in the current brink-of-Trumpism cultural climate:
Billy on the Street is essentially about pop culture, so the show becomes something that can’t, beyond a certain point, carry the weight. We’re not The Daily Show. We’re there to provide a different type of entertainment and a different type of commentary. But where I can, we are doing that. I do think entertainers and artists have a responsibility to, at the very least, sit themselves down and have a conversation with themselves about how they are using their platform. Because this is potentially a nightmare for many of us.
Watch the clip: