The top of the Pennsylvania ticket this year (aside from the presidency, Mormon vs. Muslim, Bully vs. Osama-Killer) is the contest for U.S. Senate between Democratic incumbent Bob Casey and Republican challenger Tom Smith. Casey has the advantage as a show veteran, having performed six years ago as a candidate for Senate (against Rick Santorum. Anyone hear from him lately?)
First-time candidate Smith, who still lives on the Armstrong County farm where he was born, comes off like a good-old boy. He quips, “I have a wife and six daughters. I know what drama is,” but says he is running to shrink the Everest of debt that he fears will sink this country and harm his grandchildren.
Republican John Featherman, who is running for Congress, first did the show in 1998 and remembers being heckled, in a funny way, from the front row by boxer/actor Tex Cobb. (John was in a pink suit.) He’s got his material ready for this year. A sample? “You know my wife is Asian and we live in Chinatown.” I do know this. “We were celebrating our anniversary and my wife said, ‘You have been a great husband and I want to give you anything you want.’ I said, ‘OK. 69.’ She looked at me with a confused face and said, ‘Why you want beef and broccoli?’”
Rim shot. (Helen Gym, complain to him, not me.)
The show is at Finnigan’s Wake, 3rd & Spring Garden, Wednesday, Aug. 22. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; showtime is 8. Tax-deductible tickets are $75 each; tables of 10 cost $750.
The show has almost zero overhead as entertainers, crew, wait staff — everyone — works for free. Checks should be made out to “Variety” and mailed to Variety, c/o Eric Perry, 2nd floor, 1520 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19102. For credit-card orders, call 215-735-0803, ext. 11 for Eric Perry. Tables are assigned in the order of checks received. Early checks = best seats.
In addition to the candidates named above, for the open seat of attorney general, it’s Democrat Kathleen Kane versus Republican David Freed, a twice-elected district attorney who says he usually entertains his colleagues with a PowerPoint presentation, “but as far as standup, I’ll have to do some prep.”
Congress: 1st District, Democratic incumbent Bob Brady is returning for the umpteenth time, and will be happy to buy opponent Featherman an Irish or Italian meal, as Bob is half and half.
In the 2nd District, show veteran and Democratic incumbent Chaka Fattah is wimping out. Two years ago he embarrassed himself (and fellow Dems) with an insanely partisan rant (as usual) against all Republicans, ignoring that this is a comedy show, not a MoveOn.org rally. His Republican opponent, Robert Allen Mansfield, is a veteran of Iraq and a retired businessman who quotes Will Rogers: “If the opposite of pro is con, the opposite of progress is Congress.”
Mansfield wants to fix that and doesn’t see challenging Fattah as a suicide mission. “In Iraq we escorted 43 trucks into Baghdad,” he says, and then back out. He was severely wounded, and compared to that, politics is like a spring day.
In the 6th District, Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach is onboard, as is his Democratic challenger, Iraq veteran Manan Trevedi, who opposed Gerlach two years ago. A physician, Manan told me that being at the show, “given your age and recent health scare, counts toward continuing medical education credit.”
In the 7th District, Republican incumbent Pat Meehan returns to the stage, while Democratic challenger George Badey, best known as the head of Save the Mummers, makes his debut as a candidate.
In the 8th District, Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick is hiding under his desk and not returning calls. His Democratic challenger is attorney Kathy Boockvar, and she will be there to support children with disabilities.
In the 13th District, Democratic incumbent Allyson Schwartz will face Republican Joe Rooney, a Delta Air Lines B737 pilot and former Marine Corps jet jockey whose wife, Beth, was one of the Navy’s first female jet pilots.
They won’t be the only ones flying high (or making a forced landing) on Aug. 22. n
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