Legendary Broadway actor and producer Jordan Roth has never been shy about his political criticisms and ideals. In fact, Roth, known for his characteristic peacefulness and kindness has openly spoken about unity and equality on several different platforms. But, Roth explains that doesn’t mean he is immune to the hate-filled rhetoric, tweets and rallies that the current presidential administration has inspired.
In a feature video for NowThis News, the acclaimed Broadway performer, while wearing a rainbow stitched sweater that reads “Love,” discussed his own experiences when checking social media or the news. Roth said that he would scroll through Twitter and see so much hate, often coming from the president himself, as well as racial slurs, anti-LGBTQ sentiment and some sort of new divisive policy to be put but in place with a convenient executive order.
Like many Americans, Roth became overwhelmed with the state of the country and confused by what are referred to as “American values.” He asked himself, “How am I going to explain this to my kids?”
To Roth, everything that is being forced onto the American people as right and what is being branded as wrong is the complete opposite of the most basic lessons everyone tries to teach their children about kindness and basic human decency.
Then came a sudden moment of realization; it’s not the children that need the explanation, “it’s us,” says Roth.
So, being the acclaimed go-getter and peace-advocate he is known to be, Roth considered how he was going to set things straight. He began to think back to those lessons of kindness and how we should treat one another and thought where do those lessons come from? Similar to most American children’s lives and adults’ memories, Roth recalled ideas of sharing and togetherness in the television shows he watched as a kid, such as “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.”
Roth determined that these shows resonated as kids because in adolescence the world doesn’t seem to make sense. He claims this is because of children’s naive perspective of the world, but now, “the world really doesn’t make sense” to anyone. This led Roth to the idea to create his very own “kids show for adults,” called “The Birds and the BS.”
“The Birds and the BS” features Roth himself, who plays the host character who he describes as a “cracked-out version of Mr. Rogers.” The YouTube series follows the tropes of old-school children shows with song, in hopes to not only educate viewers on current issues, but to also help find humor in them as well. Roth says that many Americans watch the news and feel anger and despair, rightfully so, but he feels that humor is a way to “open our hearts and our minds.”
In each episode of the “The Birds and the BS,” Roth gets a letter “from a kid” — sound familiar? — asking questions about the asinine world of today. Sometimes the letters even include a little story in which Mr. Jordan can spin into a lesson. This was shown in one episode where “a kid” writes in to Mr. Jordan and shares that his family, like many immigrants, came to America in pursuit of the American dream. Mr. Jordan goes onto share that this child earned a doctorate degree, an MBA and developed a cure for cancer, but is now facing deportation. Through humor and kindergarten-esque rhyme, Roth explains the problem with this reality for many immigrant families.
In addition to Roth’s fun-loving and easy-going personality on the show, the Broadway star is joined each week by an animated celebrity guest. The guest and Roth end each episode with an original song answering questions and setting the world straight on current issues, such as public education and gun culture — tastefully finding humor in it all.
Roth says that when he sits down to create a new episode for “The Birds and the BS” he asks himself three questions. What’s the issue? What needs to be said? How do we make that funny? Roth says there are so many ways for people to share their voice about important issues and in his new web series that helps people find humor in the news, he feels he has found the best way for himself to do just that.
However, Roth admits that he hasn’t been able to find humor in every current event that he is passionate about. In his feature video for NowThis News, Roth adamantly expresses his disproval of America’s current situation at the Mexican borders. In response to families being torn apart, Roth says “There’s just nothing funny there.”
Roth aims to continue to use other platforms aside from “The Birds and the BS” to talk about the separation of families and policies because it must be talked about. Roth explains that this is what art is for; dancing, writing, singing, performing, all exist to say something about the world.
To Roth, the arts hold up a mirror to society and asks not just of viewers but of the creator themselves, what can we be? “That’s the only reason to make something. To tell a story.”
“The Birds and the BS” is available for streaming now on YouTube.