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Washington’s Funniest Celebrity Contest

…is that an oxymoron? Perhaps. D.C. is not considered a comedic hot spot. What passes for rib-tingling humor here is, say, when Sen. John McCain rejects calls to be a vice presidential candidate by smirking, “I spent all those years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, kept in the dark, fed scraps … why the hell would I want to do that all over again?” Worth a chuckle? Sure. Will you fall out of your chair? No — and only in part because you wouldn’t want C-SPAN’s cameras to catch the embarrassment.


But Wednesday night at the Mayflower Hotel, Washington’s funniest came out for the 12th annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest and tried their best to prove that humor is possible in a town that takes itself far too seriously. Journalist Andrew Sullivan quickly titled the evening, “the Special Olympics of comedy.”

Kathleen Matthews MC’d the event. The judges were WTOP’s Bob Madigan, NPR/Fox News’ Juan Williams, Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Washington Post’s Roxanne Roberts, and Jim Kimsey. (Time’s Margaret Carlson and Fox News’ Greta van Susteren were no shows.)

Contestants included Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Slate’s John Dickerson (above), Chicago Tribune’s Clarence Page, Congressman Brian Baird, D-Wash., Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Andrew Sullivan, Linda Sanchez, and WTOP’s Mark Plotkin. Ana Marie Cox–vacation in Puerto Rico…lucky dawg–and Joe Scarborough were no shows.

Performers included Mark Russell, comedian Bob Somerby, Mayor Anthony Williams, and Richard Siegel.

Details, pictures, and more jokes after the jump…

The task was an uphill battle from the beginning: The talent pool was shallow enough as to allow room for such “Really…you’re considered funny?” contestants as Norquist and Page (see him dressed up as Elvis here).

(Just to clarify: We’re supposed to be laughing with, not at, them, right?) Of course, perhaps we ought to look at the bright side: the unemployment rate amongst Washington’s comedic speechwriters during the week leading up to Wednesday’s event must have reached an all-time low. After all, how else do you explain Page coming up with the hilarious line, “Being crowned the funniest person in Washington is like being the tallest jockey in the Kentucky Derby–it’s not too impressive.” Or Andrew Sullivan asking, “Why are all the names of hurricanes lesbian ones? And bitchy ones at that? And all heading toward Key West?”


It turned out that almost all of the evening’s jokes were chuckle-worthy (save Page’s joke, “You know what the mother potato said to her daughter potato? Don’t mess with that columnist — he’s just a common tater.”) and the night taught one instructive lesson: It’s not that D.C. isn’t funny; we’re just not funny to anyone besides ourselves (as Norquist warned before performing his routine, “If you don’t get my jokes, that’s simply because they’re over your head.”).


Some of the more memorable lines:

  • “I hope this isn’t like the horror movies, where the black guy dies first.” – Clarence Page

  • “Being married is kind of like being a Ken-doll: You don’t get to dress yourself anymore.” – Grover Norquist

  • “You can put your wine glasses down, because I’ve got the police positioned outside on the street. You better be careful.” – Mayor Williams


  • “All the Republicans who hit on me are married and all the Democrats who hit on me are gay.” – Linda Sanchez

  • “Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Date Republicans” by Linda Sanchez
    10. The only time they believe in fiscal restraint is when the dinner bill comes.
    9. His idea of getting to second base is fondling my stock portfolio.
    8. He thinks that Emily’s List is a call girl service.
    7. His idea of oral stimulation is getting me to recite the Contract with America.
    6. He thinks that white pantyhose and pearls are sexy–and you should see what he wants me to wear.
    5. Because when Republicans say that they want to create opportunities for minorities, that means they want to date me and [her sister] Loretta.
    4. Despite all the hype, I still can’t find his weapon of mass destruction.
    3. His pending prison term for political corruption is just another excuse for him to be emotionally unavailable.
    2. Republicans are only interested in screwing the poor.
    1. Because they make love like they make war: they lie to get in and don’t have a plan for what to do once they get there.

  • “I’m glad I’m not the only gay guy here–thanks Grover (or as I like to call him, ‘Mama Bear.’” – Andrew Sullivan.

Note we said “memorable” above. Not funniest. In the end, this was about as good as it got.

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