Pa. politicians raise $25K for charity with bad jokes

     Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett tries to win laughs at a candidates' comedy night Thursday (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett tries to win laughs at a candidates' comedy night Thursday (Emma Lee/WHYY)

    What’s harder than running the country’s sixth most populous state?

    How about doing stand-up comedy?

    Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic challenger Tom Wolf tried to win laughs Thursday at a candidates’ comedy night hosted by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky. Ten Congressional candidates from various parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania joined them in the show, which raises money for  Variety, a charity for children with disabilities.

    Sometimes the politicians’ jokes were so bad, it hurt. Corbett tried to poke fun at himself and his not-so-funny colleagues.

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    “I feel sorry for all of you to have to listen to all this,” he said. “Politicians are not funny!”

    There is one exception to the rule, Corbett noted: Democratic state Sen. Daylin Leach, who represents Delaware and Montgomery counties. “He is a funny man. He really is,” said Corbett. “I mean, who else takes a fact-finding mission to go to Colorado to research marijuana?”

    Leach, who is regarded as one of the state’s funnier politicians, did not participate in this year’s candidates’ comedy night because he is not currently running for office. Thankfully for the crowd, professional comedian and headliner Joe Conklin served up several belly laughs, cracking jokes about everything from the 2016 Democratic National Convention to former Gov. Ed Rendell to dirty cops.

    Corbett also made jokes about Wolf’s iconic Jeep, which has been featured in the Democrat’s TV ads, as well as eating dinner with U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

    “I’m really tired of seeing his Jeep, really tired of it,” said Corbett. “You see that Jeep in the commercial. I was waiting for him to hit somebody. Wasn’t looking where he was driving.”

    Like Corbett, Wolf attempted to make fun of himself and fellow amateur comedians.

    “There are so many people who think politicians are just a bunch of jokers,” said Wolf. “I think tonight we’ve proven that that’s absolutely not true.”

    Wolf, a wealthy businessman, also told a joke about contributing to his own campaign.

    “Fundraising is really not something that anybody really enjoys,” he said. “But I got to say that if you think calling up and asking strangers for a couple thousand bucks is tough, you should try asking your wife to take $10 million out of the family’s rainy day fund.”

    A quote by Bykofsky, the host, summed up the night: “It’s not as easy as it looks.” He said the comedy event raked in more than $25,000 for Variety, for a grand total of more than $500,000 raised for charity since the political tradition’s beginning 24 years ago.

    Also performing stand-up comedy were Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and his Republican challenger Megan Rath; Congressional candidates Manan Trivedi (D) and Ryan Costello (R); Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan and his Democratic challenger Mary Ellen Balchunis; Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick and his Democratic challenger Kevin Strouse; and Democrat Brendan Boyle and Republican Dee Adcock, also candidates for Congress.

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