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Television: From an old BBC show comes a new take on the news in Philadelphia

Using the news, and its headlines, to satirize the government and contemporary trends is a time-honored comedy tradition.

Will Rogers built a legendary vaudeville act around reading and commenting on newspaper articles. Mort Sahl, donned in a casual cardigan, would sit on a high stool and wring laughs by pointing pointed fun at political. Perhaps the most sophisticated of all television attempts at true satire, “The Simpsons and “The Family Guy” notwithstanding, was a ‘60s series called “That Was the Week That Was,” a British import with a very British David Frost as host and a troupe of actors and singers tearing currents events to comic shreds via sketches, set pieces, and songs. Several of those songs were written by Tom Lehrer, the best then and unequalled more than 40 years after he stopped musically plying his wisdom.

“That Was the Week That Was” gave Jennifer Childs, a founder and artistic director of 1812 Productions, an idea.

1812 is devoted to mounting productions that generate laughs, and Childs can compete with the great entertainment writer Chuck Darrow for encyclopedic knowledge of the history of comedy and the people who made it.

Fourteen years ago, Childs was mulling over what 1812 could present for the holidays. She decided on a revue of sketch and stand-up comedy through time. Entertainment was more important than evolution, but the 20th century was rich in styles that led to a show. One of those styles was political satire.

A strong reception to such a segment led to an evening of it. Childs called her “This Is the Week That Is,” and it has become a traditional annual entry in the Philadelphia theater. It’s become such an anticipated staple that, earlier this year, the crafting of “This Is the Week That Is” was the subject of an national Emmy-nominated documentary called

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