By Zachary-Taylor Wright
Opinions are unwelcome in the world of professional journalism, but a flock of communication professionals is about to get uncouth at the annual Gridiron production hosted by the San Antonio chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists 7:30-9:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in the auditorium of McAllister Fine Arts Center.
The show is a political satire that employs song parodies, choreographed dances and a host of journalists-turned-actors to poke fun at local and national issues.
The theme for this year’s Gridiron is “Taco Wars: The Farce Awakens,” and the production cleverly blends the name of “Star Wars” characters and local politicians, such as Princess Ivy (Taylor, mayor of San Antonio) and Obi-wan Medina (Cris Medina, San Antonio City Councilman District 7).
Nora Lopez, metro editor at the San Antonio Express-News, says the theme combines the heated taco war between Austin and San Antonio and the extremely popular return of “Star Wars.”
Lopez is producing the show and described her favorite aspect of production.
“I love to see the script transformation,” Lopez said. “We have these script-writing committees, but we also have people who have just written and participated, and to see the transformation of the script, which is just a piece of paper with some words and jokes that’s brought to life basically.”
Professional singers have volunteered to perform original parodies of classic radio hits infused with political comedy. The references will range from transgender restrooms to fruit picking.
Mark Carrillo, a freelance voiceover artist and lead vocalist in The Psychedelic Jukebox, volunteered to author these parody songs; he wrote and performed “Facebookin’,” a satirical jab at society’s dependence on social media to the tune of the 1966 hit “Barefootin’” at Gridiron in 2013.
A 2016 political satire could not be successful without the obligatory Donald Trump digs and Hillary Clinton wigs — both jokes will be present.
The show will include a surprise cameo by a local political figure; while the identity of this year’s cameo is kept tightly under wraps, audience members can expect to be surprised considering Taylor’s cameo in the Gridiron last year.
Parents with young children should find a babysitter for the night, said Michael Drudge, the SPJ San Antonio pro chapter president, because this event is aimed at adults with a sense of humor.
Proceeds from ticket sales provide scholarships for journalism students who attend a local college or grew up in San Antonio and attend college outside of the city, Drudge said.
Last year, $11,000 was divided among nine students.
Drudge described the connection between SPJ’s mission and the Gridiron-funded scholarships, which help journalism students succeed.
“Obviously college acceptance,” Drudge said. “Giving them some financial support can certainly help them in their goal of becoming a professional journalist — and that’s our main goal in the program.”
Drudge says the show brings attention to SPJ and the journalists who win the scholarships provided by Gridiron.
“Since we are the sponsors of the event, all of the people who attend the show learn about us (SPJ),” Drudge said.
David Elizondo, assignments editor for WOAI-TV, is producing the show alongside Lopez, while Frankie Saucedo, certified adviser in career and transfer services at Northwest Vista College, is directing the production.
Student SPJ chapters from this college, Texas State University and Texas A&M-San Antonio are assisting with the production.
Carrillo provided a succinct description of the production’s demographic.
“All idiots,” he said, “are welcome.”
Tickets can be purchased on the SPJ ticketbud website for $35 or at the door for $40.
To purchase tickets, visit www.sanantoniospj.ticketbud.com. For more information on the production, visit www.facebook.com/SAGridiron.