Thursday, August 22, 2013

Notes from Bykofsky Candidates' Comedy Night

This evening I attended the 23rd annual Sty Bykofsky Candidates’ Comedy Night, at Finnegan’s Wake in Philadelphia.  This event is a fundraiser for Variety, thechildren’s charity.  

I’ve been to this event before.  The jokes are often off-color.  It is not an uplifting experience.  This year, for the first time, a non-Pennsylvania candidate spoke.  New Jersey Democratic senatorial candidate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker attended at the invitation / request of George Norcross, one of the owners of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News. He was clearly the main attraction of the night.  Reporters from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal were there.  I hate to think of what they will say about the evening.  It was not necessarily presenting the city at its best.

Here are my notes, taken hastily as people spoke.  It is not intended as a full transcript.  There were a number of comments I couldn’t follow.

Stu Bykofsky a Daily News columnists, started the evening off with opening remarks, mostly raunchy jokes.

Jenice Armstrong , also a Daily News columnist, mentioned that the event had raised $475,000 for Variety over the years.

Incumbent Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz, a Democrat, was up first.  He had a skit that involved a woman working a crossword puzzle on a computer.  I had no idea what the joke was supposed to be; it was hard to hear.  [Note for potential future speakers – this type of schtick never works well.  Don’t try it.]  The length of this confusing performance took up most of Butkovitz’s time.  He told one joke which pertained to getting audited.  It was a long involved joke and the punchline involved someone who was being audited peeing on the auditor’s desk. 

Doogie Horner was one of two professional comedians to break up the politicians.  Horner appeared on America’s Got Talent in an earlier season.    He was funny.  Some of his jokes dealt with Irish stereotypes, others with life in New York City.

Danny Alvarez, Republican candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney was up next.  He asks if the previous candidate was Doogie bin Laden [Horner had a scruffy beard].  He held up his watch and said it had a calculator on it.  He uses it to keep track of the HUGE amount of money he is raising.  It also has a calendar and he is hoping to arrange a debate with incumbent DA Seth Williams.  He said Seth’s suit looks like it was made by a tailor who married a tentmaker.  He said Stu called him and said if he didn’t appear at the event Stu would write bad things about him in the paper.  There was a joke about seeing a Seth Williams for Mayor sticker on a tombstone at the cemetery.  [This related to a joke about dead people voting in Philadelphia.]  The campaign sent Seth Williams an invitation to debate but Seth probably thought it was a gas bill and threw it away.  The last group of jokes focused on his upbringing.  He said his father was so cheap that the family used a spare tire in the back of a pickup as a baby’s car seat.

Seth Williams followed Alvarez, which was interesting.  He starts by thanking Stu and Mike Driscoll, owner of Finnegan’s Wake.  “The truth is, I’m not that funny.  My job is serious.”  He says his Blackberry goes off all day long with murders and rapes.  When Stu called about a fundraiser Williams thought it was a fundraiser to help the gas bill.  The Daily News had a front page story saying that on one month in 2012 he was a month late with a gas bill of over $500.  So was Mayor Nutter.  Nutter makes Pee Wee Herman look like a Hell’s Angel.  Nutter and Williams call each other on the 5th of every month to remind each other to pay the gas bill.  Stu was rushed to the emergency room with an erection lasting over 4 hours.  Williams asked what the doctors did about that and says Bykofsky said the doctor showed him a picture of Lynne Abraham.  The Daily News had a story about Williams following sexy ladies on twitter [he held out his arms and shimmied as he said this – it was funny].  He doesn’t know how that happened but he’s never letting Ed Rendell hold his phone again.  The paper didn’t report that he also follows the Bible on twitter but it’s not the King James Version but the 50 Shades of Gray version.  [not sure what this refers to; the Bible is racey enough as is].  Alvarez says he is committed to excellence.  Williams says he wishes Alvarez had been committed to excellence when he worked in the DA’s office.  Booker shows the rise of the strong Black bald man.  People confuse Williams with Booker, State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, State Sen. Vincent Hughes, and William Hite, superintendent of Philadelphia schools.    People like to think all Black men look alike.  “Michelle and I will be signing autographs outside.”

There was a break to auction off a gift card to the Blitz restaurant.  Emerald Capital bought it for more than twice it’s face value.

Bykofsky always has a surprise guest.  This year it is Dan Gross, former gossip columnist Dan Gross.  He tells jokes.  Then he auctions off a helmet signed by someone at the Philadelphia Soul arena football team.  George Norcross bid $2,000 if Gross would put it on.  Emerald Capital bid $3,000 but also wanted Gross to try on the helmut.

Cory Booker was up next.  He said he’s made many mistakes in life but none as big as accepting George Norcross’s invitation to appear here.  He praises Bykofsky.  Then he says he is a Yankees fan but has to pander to South Jersey residents who are fans of Philly sports teams, and lists the ones he is now favoring.  Tells the story of George Washington crossing the Delaware.  He  had to go by boat because even back then the tolls were too high.  People tease him about his close relationship with NJ Gov. Chris Christie.  He made a joke about brushing his teeth with Chris and his wife Mary Pat, and of tucking Chris into bed a night.  There was a long intertwining joke about famous New Jerseyans.   He is glad Bruce Springsteen lets him use the john when he is the neighborhood.  Speaking of johns he Is glad that Jon Bon Jovi’s wife Dorothea ….. etc, it went on like that at some length.  He said Obama has endorsed him.  There were several jokes I couldn’t follow.

Professional comedian Grover Silcox takes the stage and tells jokes about marriage and sports.

The last speak was Terry Tracy, Republican candidate for Philadelphia city controller.   He is jealous that Cory Booker gets to brush his teeth at night with the next president.  His cousin is the Prime Minister of Ireland.  Lists things he has in common with Elliott Spitzer, Democratic candidate for New York City Comptroller.  Philadelphia has been a one party town for a long time.  We should have had city council serve dinner tonight.  Nothing would have gotten passed.  They refer to Booker as a celebrity politician.  Tracy would be happy if they referred to him at all.  [There were jokes about the hair on his head  and his chest hair.]

Bykofsky thanks everyone.  The evening ends.

Personal Notes:  There were a number of people at the bar who continued to have loud conversation that made it hard to hear.  George Norcross was there, and sat at the Daily News table.  Booker sat at the Variety table and talked with the Variety staff there.  He was clearly a star attraction as people came over throughout the night to have pictures taken with him.   Mayor Nutter wasn’t there.  I didn’t see any of the other usual political heavy hitters like Bob Brady or John Dougherty either.  It doesn’t mean they weren’t there, just that I didn’t see them.

Favorite Line:  Seth Williams doing the shimmy while saying "sexy ladies" and that he didn't know how he started following those sites on twitter "but I'm never letting Ed Rendell hold my phone again."

The sound track for this evening’s excursion into the city was the new Steve Martin / Edie Brickell cd, Love Has Come for You.  Favorite track:  Iron Mountain Baby.

1 comment:

Chris Casey said...

Thank you Jane. I am still around, and reading your blog daily.