Bipartisan Comedy: Politicians and Pundits Let Loose at Charity Fundraiser

Funniest Celebrity in Washington Austan Goolsbee

It was a night of bipartisan comedy.

Politicians, pundits and journalists took a break from the serious issues of the day to let their creative, comedic juices flow in the annual Funniest Celebrity in Washington contest Wednesday. The politically star-studded event is somewhat of a staple in the nation's capital. The fundraiser is now in its 16th year and boasts many of the political powerhouses of comedy.

Austan Goolsbee took home this year's top award for his unique stand-up routine. The White House economic adviser added subtle comedic nuances -- by lowering his voice -- to a monologue that could have, otherwise, passed for a regular speech.

Speaking of the Obamas' trip this week to Copenhagen, Denmark, to promote Chicago for the 2016 Olympic games, Goolsbee quipped, "I think they're bringing the governors, if the parole board says it's OK."

As for bank executives who received federal bailout money, he said, "I think they learned some lessons from what just happened, like spend your bonuses quickly."

The 11 contestants who gathered at the Improv didn't spare anyone and took jabs at leaders on both sides of the political aisle. But the favorite subject of the night was, undoubtedly, Sarah Palin.

"I promised to speak 10 minutes tonight but, in honor of Sarah Palin, I'm going to do half of that and quit," Democratic California Rep. Jackie Speier said as she opened her monologue, referring to Palin's stepping down as Alaska governor this year.

Master of ceremonies Baratunde Thurston even had suggestions for a title for the former GOP vice presidential candidate's forthcoming book.

"If at first you don't succeed, say you did and then quit," the comedian said. Or, "Turning 15 minutes of fame into forever."

Other officials were not spared either.

"My rule is never drink water. Dick Cheney tortures with it," joked Grover Norquist, president of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform.

It was Norquist who convinced Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as "Joe the Plumber," to take part in the night of comedy. "This will be fun," a calm Wurzelbacher told ABC News before the show.

The former plumber, who was put in the national spotlight after he asked President Barack Obama a question during the presidential campaign last year, said he is trying to use his 15 minutes of fame to do some good, like help raise money for StandUp for Kids, which the event was sponsoring.

It's not often that both Democrats and Republicans can come together and go at each other -- and themselves -- with such ease. Event founder and organizer Richard Siegel said that's the mission of the event, and his goal this year was to offer a greater variety of stand-up acts.

"We have someone from every walk of life," Siegel said. "I'm trying to promote bipartisanship."

Siegel's attempt at bipartisan comedy may have worked at the comedy club where the event was held, but its future outside the venue seems shaky.

"It's a joke," Wurzelbacher said of bipartisanship. "It's a made up word to appease the general masses."

Night of Political Comedy

Many pundits and politicians have taken to the stage and let loose at this comedy event, from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, to liberal blogger Ariana Huffington.

The contestants are judged based on their delivery, presentation, content and audience reaction.

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