BORGLUM! THE MOUNT RUSHMORE MUSICAL, Zeppo Productions, at the Factory Theater Company. George Brant is a tease. He promises great comedy, usually starting with a wonderfully silly premise; interesting, quirky characters; and a whacked-out story. Then he fails to deliver any big laughs. Instead, pomo playwright that he is, Brant produces lots of little jokes, smile-inducing ironies, and very mild satires of long-dead genres.

In Borglum!–a musical about John Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who designed and directed the carving of Mount Rushmore–Brant and musical collaborator Paige Coffman send up a species of patriotic hagiography that hasn’t been taken seriously since World War II. The production is full of over-the-top flag-waving, speeches about the American can-do spirit, and, at the dramatic climax, comparisons of Borglum’s life with Christ’s. There are also plenty of amusing songs and lots of terrific comic acting, led by Brant himself. What’s missing are the laughs. The best line–“It’s this Depression. It’s got me all tore up inside”–will never have them rolling in the aisles. And nothing else in the show rises even to this level.

Someday Brant will find someone to come up with funny stuff to fill out his otherwise nicely crafted shows, and then he’ll be a comic force to be reckoned with.

–Jack Helbig