Thursday, June 21, 2007

Zings and arrows at the Press Corps follies

Every year since 1985, the Capital Press Corps in Raleigh has mounted a production called the Legislative Skits, poking fun at the honorables in the legislature, the governor, assorted lobbyists and bureaucrats, and sometimes even the ink-stained wretches themselves. It’s the legacy of Observer religion writer Tim Funk, who came to Raleigh as a capital correspondent 22 years ago only to discover the press corps here didn’t have an annual show spoofing the bigwigs. He started it all.
This year’s show was presented Wednesday night at Raleigh’s Temple Beth Or and it was, as usual, well attended by legislators, lobbyists and various hangers-on. The program was a mix of the hilarious and the tacky, off-key singing and on-target balloon-puncturing, with no small measure of bathroom jokes and other low humor. In other words, just right for a legislative audience.
The star of the show in my book was the Associated Press’s Margaret Lillard, who skewered Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake, with her riff on life’s daily annoyances and a canny impression of Rep. Carolyn Justice, R-Pender. No one’s ox was safe from goring.
The Observer’s Mark Johnson played former Speaker Jim Black. When he walked on stage in a set of baggy orange-and-white jailhouse togs borrowed from the Wake County Sheriff’s Department, there was a collective intake of breath, then a rolling thunder of laughter as Johnson spoke in the familiar Jim Black mumble and, of course, a pungent reprise of Black’s once calling a reporter a “Sorry Sack of S---.”
The Observer’s David Ingram played the role of “Dr. B,” a busy medical professional, in a skit about equipping mens’ rooms in restaurants with banking facilities – to make it easier to handle political transactions and “do business while you’re doing your business.”
One gag introduced a reporter playing the part of Sen. Dan “I’m Smarter Than You Are” Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg and another made fun of Mecklenburg Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham’s schoolmarmish ways, threatening to spank recalcitrant lawmakers. Other skits made fun of Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight’s Outer Banks “Hoi Toide” accent and the legislature’s preference for honorary resolutions over substantive legislature.
The reporter playing Basnight – Scott Mooneyham of “the insider” – proposed a resolution changing the state motto from “To Be Rather Than to Seem” (Esse Quam Videri) to “To Honor Rather Than to Be.” AP Reporter Gary Robertson played Senate Deputy President Pro Tem Charlie Dannelly of Charlotte, saying in a fictional debate, “I...knew... Esse Videri....Her friends called her 'Quam'" that brought the House down.
Another skit noted 10 indications the new ethics and lobbyist laws are working, including these two: pricey steakhouses like Sullivan’s now offer a senior citizens discount, and stock in the local K&W Cafeteria is at an all-time high as legislators have to buy their own meals this year.
There were some real zingers, too. In a list of 10 indications that the new ethics legislation isn’t working was this one: Rep. Pryor Gibson, D-Anson, still has a committee chairmanship. Whew!
And there was a raggedy attempt at a group song, playing off the Beatles’ “Hey, Jude” with an ode to House Speaker Joe Hackney: “Hey, Joe.”
Polished, it wasn’t, but then, neither is the Capital Press Corps. That’s the way it should be.

10 comments:

David McKnight said...

Maybe one of the esteemed Capital Press Corps reporters could do a spoof on the Governor's Office too and not just target the Legislature.

Wait--I have an idea--here it is, the words are coming to me now:

"Well, the Governor's people are too darned hard to find, so we'll just pick 'extry-hard' on the Honorables in the Legislature.

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