What passes for funny amongst journalists? Nipples. The word f–k. Ann Coulter’s boobs. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) being the hue of burnt sienna. And the National Press Club turning the Edward R. Murrow room into an RNC bondage bar.
Journalists performing stand-up in the National Press Club ballroom for the Commedia del Media charity journo comedy competition Thursday night did imitations of British accented broadcasters and one wondered why CNN didn’t allow one of its own to participate in the competition. Few knew that Sue Bennett, a producer for HBO “Real Time With Bill Maher,” was in the audience scouting the talent. NBC, CBS and FOX were also there filming the performances.
Commedia del Media raises money for charities such as Reporters Without Borders. Of the seven competing journalists, two tied for first place: Former CNN scribe and Miltary.com’s Jamie McIntyre and FOX Business Network correspondent Rich Edson. Judges voted for McIntyre, but the decibel machine revealed that McIntyre and Edson tied at 105.6 decibels.
Edson performed well-practiced impressions of British broadcasters and a raspy-voiced Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.). Though he said he was nervous, many thought his delivery was near-perfect.
McIntyre tweaked CNN, saying, “They told me one of those cameras is for the Fox News Channel. I’m not used to having so many people watching.” He also razzed cable news broadly. “I like to call it news whiz,” he said, comparing it to the cheese. “It’s a simulated news-like product. You could use it for news if you didn’t have any real news.”
McIntyre spilled that a CNN reporter was to perform stand-up last night, but cracked that the event wasn’t serious enough for the network. He said most networks are “thin-skinned” and prone to “hurt feelings.”
Though he never named the journalist who was to perform Thursday night, FishbowlDC learned that the would-be comedian was Capitol Hill correspondent Brianna Keilar. Keilar dropped out a few weeks ago with the CNN Speakers Bureau declaring her unavailable for the evening. Sources say she had wanted to perform.
McIntyre, the former CNN Pentagon scribe, blamed himself for the correspondent dropping out. He said in 2006 he competed in a Funniest Journalist on the Planet contest in Manhattan in which he took comedic jabs at then-CNN host Lou Dobbs. At the time, CNN was none too pleased, McIntyre said, and a network higher-up phoned to scold him as he drove home to Washington.
Mother Jones D.C. Bureau Chief David Corn was among the event’s three judges. A tough judge, he was. “Actually I don’t like comedy at all,” he said before the routines began. “It takes me a lot to laugh. I do think [RNC Chairman] Michael Steele is really funny. He is my favorite comedian. He cracks me up. He kills.”
Former Time reporter Matt Cooper was emcee for the evening. Before the event, he paced and paced, carefully studying his notes. Cooper, whose cadence resembles that of an actual comedian, spoke of horrible crowds in the Metro, saying, “I’m like, ‘Get off the f–king Metro people.’ Let me be depressed by myself.” He also took a stab at (or else, complimented) Politico saying, “As you know, this extraordinary nuclear agreement was signed. …Later they said the world still needed to come together to fight the global threat of Politico for world domination.”
He remarked on his figure, saying, “I’ve tried to lose some weight. I’ve gone from f–king fat to fat.”
Cooper imitated former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) asking aide Andrew Young to pretend Rielle Hunter’s baby was his. “I’m going to owe you a solid when this is over,” he said in an Edwards drawl. …And I think your wife is going to understand more than you think.”
Aside from McIntyre and Edson, other performers included WaPo’s Melissa Bell (who spoke of men in India pinching women’s nipples as a sign of affection), former NPR reporter Jamila Bey, Politics Daily’s Walter Shapiro, McClatchy’s Nancy Youssef and Department of Transportation public relations officer Doug Hecox.
Hecox on the census: “I’m just waiting for John Boehner where he checks the box orange. The story is not that he’s orange, it’s that he’s really burnt sienna.”
He brought up Coulter’s jugs, saying that he’s going to dress up as President Ann Coulter for Halloween, his favorite holiday. But, he said, he feared that his breasts would be too large. “I’m not saying she’s flat chested,” he said. “I’m saying they both lean too far to the right.”
Shapiro recalled watching 60 hours of cable TV for a story. “It was interesting watching the two IQ points slough off my dandruff,” he said.
Youssef described herself as “Muslimish.” She said, “I drink, I fornicate, but I don’t eat pork.”
The evening closed with Sylvia Traymore, whose imitations included The View’s Whoopie Goldberg, actress Monique, and singer Dionne Warwick. Largely with her back turned to the audience, she stripped off her long-sleeved shirt to reveal a sleeveless top to become First Lady Michelle Obama with well-sculpted arms. She then began furiously brushing her hair into an Obama coiffe. Then she turned and pursed her lips, depicting a typical FLOTUS facial expression (see picture after the jump).
Christina Davidson, the event’s organizer, took to the stage to congratulate the winners and lobby for next year’s journo comedians. “If you have the balls for this, talk to me,” she said.
Journalists in attendance included Politics Daily’s Editor-in-Chief Melinda Henneberger, her husband, WaPo education reporter Bill Turque, Politics Daily’s Editor Carl Cannon, NYT’s James Risen, Politico’s Kiki Ryan, The Hill’s Susan Crabtree, WTOP’s Bob Madigan and travel writer Carl Hoffman (boyfriend to WaPo’s Bell).
Emcee Matt Cooper keeps audience laughing between performances.
All photographs by Shauna Miller. More after the jump…