Last night I attended the 17th Annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest. Like many of you I’ve always felt that the funniest moments in Washington were completely unintentional (think Joe Biden). Frankly, going in I was a bit skeptical that many inside-the-beltwayers could stop fawning over their own reflections for long enough to crack a few jokes.
However, I walked away from the night pleasantly surprised. Did all the politicos and commentators hit on every joke? Of course not (Don’t take my word for it, Judge for yourself.). Were there political cheap shots? Sure. Was there drunken laughing and clapping at inappropriate moments? Absolutely.
All of those things you would expect at a comedy competition for pundits, speechwriters, and political reporters. But, overall the event was surprisingly refreshing. Self depreciation and humility were common virtues in a town where they’re more often viewed as vices. The contestants knew they weren’t professional comedians and didn’t try to pretend they were.
The comedy routines were varied but entertaining even when they weren’t hilarious and everybody knew it. In fact, some of the folks who bombed the worst saved their acts with some light hearted back and forth with host Richard Sher about just how badly they bombed. Of course there were also routines that were quite funny like White House speechwriter Jon Lovett’s spot on impression of Arianna Huffington or Human Events’ own Jason Mattera with his explanation for John Conyers’ travel entertainment.
It was perhaps the least pretentious event I’ve ever attended in DC. The atmosphere was light and the audience was jovial (yea, that’s right, jovial). There were MSNBC jokes for the right and Sarah Palin jokes for the left. The jokes worth cringing at were few and far between.
Things progressed smoothly and without any major disruption all night long. The event was organized to benefit the Fisher House Foundation which helps wounded veterans and their families. Several wounded warriors were in attendance and received several standing ovations.
In the end the Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest was perhaps the least pretentious event I’ve ever attended in DC. It seemed that everybody was able to put away their egos and enjoy a little fun, even at their own expense, for a great cause. If there is anything DC needs less of its pretention. Also, less outrageous spending but a lower level of self satisfaction and elitism is a good start.
So bravo Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest, we need more events like you.