Mark Russell is a pianist, songwriter, singer, comedian and political satirist, all talents he has shared with the Celebrity Forum Speakers Series audience at Flint Center since 1982. Introducing Russell at his Jan. 16, 17 and 18 appearances, Dick Henning, moderator and founder of the series, said that despite the many appearances over the past 30 years, Russell hasn’t lost any of his marbles.
The entertainer turned 80 this year and officially retired two years ago. After taking the stage and observing the age of the audience, he said, “You are my people.”
Russell commented on California politicians such as the Browns – Pat, Jerry and Willie – but held his nose when discussing former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“He had the thickest biceps and thinnest qualifications,” Russell said.
Commenting on Congress and its recent action on the “fiscal cliff,” Russell explained that with time running out, the Senate bill moved over to the House. As the nation held its breath, the House took up the Drywall Safety Bill. They also discussed Cinco de Mayo but couldn’t agree on the date.
Because it was still early in the new year, he encouraged the audience to join in an ode to Congress, singing “Auld Lang Syne” with slightly adjusted lyrics: “For old acquaintance be forgot/Let’s shake hands and just be friends/’Til we meet again in two months/And scare the people once again.”
Russell discussed his own life and how he had avoided the draft by joining the U.S. Marine Corps, where he shined shoes and made beds.
“When I was discharged, I didn’t come home like John Wayne,” he said. “I came home as Martha Stewart.”
On the topic of aging, he said, “You know you are 80 when you go to the bathroom and trickle down does not apply to economics.”
On Medicare: “Take a voucher and rub it where it hurts.”
For the last few minutes of the program, Henning and Russell traded barbs in a question-and-answer session during which Russell admitted that the only electronic device he uses in his home is a toaster.
“I am very 19th century when it comes to technology,” he said. “I thought ‘Dot Com’ was my maiden aunt.”
The next speaker in the Celebrity Forum series is former president of Mexico Vicente Fox, scheduled to appear Feb. 6, 7 and 8 at Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. For more information, visit celebrityforum.net.