Political candidates as stand-up comedians

    Candidates for Senate, governor and Congress went off-script during a charity comedy night in Philadelphia this week.
    All four statewide candidates took part in the annual charity event, which is hosted by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky and raises money for a children’s group.

    Candidates for Senate, governor and Congress went off-script during a charity comedy night in Philadelphia this week.

    Scott Detrow has more. [audio:100811SDCOM.mp3]

    Running for office these days is a tightly-scripted affair.

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    Candidates repeat well-worn talking points.

    They do their best to stay on-message and avoid gaffes that could go viral and give their opponents fodder for attacks.

    So you’d forgive a guy for doing a double-take when he heard Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey at the mic in Philadelphia’s Finnegan’s Wake bar this week.

    “It’s been quite a year in Washington. The Democrats passed Health Care. Now they’re talk of ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, possibly legalizing marijuana, and reforming immigration policy. So I have to say – if you’re a gay Mexican drug dealer sneaking across the border for free health care to join the Navy, you’re having a good year.”

    Toomey was one of about a dozen candidates for office who took part in a standup comedy night organized by Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky.

    The annual candidate comedy event raises money for a local children’s charity, and this year, it brought in more than 400-thousand dollars.

    All four major statewide office seekers took part.

    Democrat Joe Sestak poked fun at the Obama Administration’s attempt to get him out of the Democratic Senate primary, saying Sestak is actually Slovak for “job offer.”

    He delivered a top ten list of alternative jobs President Bill Clinton offered him during their phone conversation.

    “The first one is, and I can’t believe this one wasn’t already taken. Legal counsel for Charlie Rangel. The second was one of the Village People. But they didn’t ask and I didn’t tell.”

    And Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett, who’s from Pittsburgh, tried to make some inroads with Philadelphians.

    “But I was reading the blotter and I found out there were two drunks that were arrested for pushing over the statue of the Philly Phanatic. Now you know why I’m for the death penalty.”

    Not everybody’s routine worked.

    Democratic Congressman Bob Brady’s jokes were too blue to say on the radio.

    Another Philadelphia Democrat, Congressman Chaka Fattah, bombed with a five minute tirade against Republicans.

    “We don’t want this cast of characters in charge any time in the near future. [Booo!] In fact, I think it’s funny that a Republican even put his name on the ballot for any office, given the performance of the last president.”

    Two of the better routines belonged to suburban Philadelphia Congressional candidates.

    Democrat Manan Trivedi riffed on his Indian-American heritage.

    Growing up in Berks as an Indian-American made for an interesting upbringing. I was the only kid in town who would go cow tipping, then have to worship the cow after he knocked him over.”

    And the biggest laughs of the night went to Republican Pat Meehan, who delivered a series of jokes aimed at Vice President Joe Biden.

    “The other day General Petreaus got up, gave a report on the war. Said some things are going pretty well over in Afghanistan. We’ve had some tough days, too, but yesterday was particularly tough. Three Brazilian soldiers were killed in an ambush. And with that Joe Biden puts his head down on his hands, starts shaking. Goes, oh my god. How many is a brazilian?”

    The candidates for Congress, governor and Senate – they’ll be here all summer and fall.

    Don’t forget to tip the waiters and waitresses.

    I’m Scott Detrow in Philadelphia.

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