If there were superlatives doled out for the comedic performances at Wednesday night’s Washington Press Club Foundation annual dinner, the “most awkward” distinction would go to Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md.
Edwards, this year’s Democratic comedy keynote, started out strong with a “Scandal” parody. She was Kerry Washington’s character Olivia Pope. The American president was the “Scandal” president Fitzgerald Grant. And the other man, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), made for a scandalous love triangle. The spoof was inspired by a real-life photo of Edwards “kissing” Boehner during the Congressional Women’s baseball game.
But then the Maryland Democrat decided to compare working with Republicans to a commercial for an erectile dysfunction drug. “And just like family, sometimes we get a little tired of each other, but it doesn’t matter because there are still times that we find time to work together,” she said. “And when I mean together, I mean it in a Cialis commercial kind of way.” Edwards explained that there’s a “negotiation dance,” a flirtation with compromise and then a fuzziness that ensues. “Then when we finally seal the deal, the Cialis deal, we end up in separate bathtubs, Senator Thune,” Edwards said, calling out Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who was sitting nearby at the head table.
Edwards was in attack-dog mode in a crowd of mixed partisan allegiances. So when she brought up Benghazi, needled Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), made fun of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) “Downton Abbey” photo, and nicknamed spending too much time with the tea party the “Stockman Syndrome,” after Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), it didn’t go over well.
She even made fun of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., her Republican comedy counterpart for the night, for his failure to spell “shenanigans” at the National Press Club’s centennial spelling bee back in September. “S-H-E-N-A-N-I-G-A-N-S,” Edwards spelled into the mic. Flake, as Whispers reported, gave this comeback at the time: “I’m Mormon, I’m not supposed to know anything about shenanigans,” he had said.
Flake continued with the self-deprecating humor when it was his turn to take the stage. “As a Mormon, I abstain from coffee, tea, tobacco, alcohol and gambling,” Flake said. “I told a former secretary once that I was going to soon be celebrating my birthday. He said, ‘How?’”
The Arizona Republican also gave a shout-out to his spouse. “My wife Cheryl, Cheryl who is here,” Flake said looking around the room. “My only wife Cheryl,” the senator said to big laughs.